Author Topic: ACME Deliveries


ACME Deliveries
« on: May 22, 2015 »

Premium Rush was released in 2012 to generally favourable reviews. "An expert and spellbinding adventure," wrote Ebert (who requires no first name). "Not insulting to the viewer's intelligence," wrote Eric Snider (who like most of us, does). Will Leitch offered backhanded praise: "The movie itself, idiodic as it is, has its dipshit charms." Some of Leitch's critics had a little trouble with his headline "First, kill all the cyclists," but to paraphrase Eric, a little paraphrased Shakespeare never killed anyone. My favourite take on it was by Allison Wilmore, despite a niggle just two sentences into her review:

The indomitable bike messenger played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Premium Rush is named Wilee, as in Wile E. Coyote, the less successful half of Looney Tunes' eternal desert chase duo.  A few minutes into the movie, however,  it becomes clear he's more like the Road Runner:  Wiry and whippet thin, Wilee darts through Manhattan traffic on his fixed gear bike — chain lock wrapped around his waist — thumbing his nose at the NYPD and evading the dogged pursuit of corrupt detective Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon). No Chamois Ass is he.

Wilee may be like the Road Runner because he's being chased, practically meep meeping his way to freedom. All that's missing are dust plumes. But the Coyote is an equally if not more apt avatar because he was the one always pulling stupid stunts that never quite got him killed. Or in his case, killed in that endearing way cartoon characters have, with a million and nine lives.

Thanks to his mantra "Can't stop, don't want to," our hero doesn't exactly make it through unscathed. First there's the spectacular flight [hint: he's not in a bouncy castle] that opens the movie; it probably could've been avoided if he had those freakin' brakes he disdains to go with the pair of balls it takes to expect everyone else on the road to respect your primacy while staying true to the trajectory you have mapped out for them. Then there are references to earlier accidents and broken bones – the result, we're led to believe to curry a modicum of sympathy, of a skilled rider tested in a harsh environment. The love interest demonstrates this early on by a close call with an unobservant taxi driver; one of the few motorists deserving of blame in the movie...

You can forgive a lot in a cartoon, and I feel a little like how a cop must when he watches yet another cop drama set in the rich imagination of Hollywood, but this had me rooting for Ray Liotta Michael Shannon in the back of that ambulance. Will Leitch felt the same way:

At one point, Shannon, who I remind you is the bad guy, yells at Wilee, "Everyone in this city hates you!" and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person in the theater who applauded.

Alas, Leitch and other civilians [i.e., non-cyclists] really don't need any more ammunition to hate cyclists. This particular escapist entertainment gives them another reason to forget that the automobile is far and away the greater instrument of human destruction.

Which is not to say that I wasn't up for a bit of fun to go with the nostalgia of having once lived in NYC. Perhaps if I wasn't often in the trenches myself it would be easier to relax into the stupor necessary to pleasantly suspend disbelief.

Random observations:
• The main package being delivered is chiselled, sweaty flesh.
• Our hero frequently throws his helmet to the street. You're going to have to replace that!
• Is "Running reds killing peds" meant sardonically, or as a badge of refreshing honesty?
• Hero's bike is white.
• Hero and villain have equally crazed laughs. And true heroes don't need to shoulder-check the scene of their heroics.
• Baba O'Riley: "I don't need to be forgiven."
Premium Rush and Quicksilver should be sold in a box set to make destruction of them easier.
• Ebert gave this only half a star less than Breaking Away [see Rule #15]. To paraphrase somebody who used to be somebody in Hollywood once upon a time, stars ain't what they used to be.