A New York City bike messenger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) picks up an envelope for a rush delivery. A crooked cop (Michael Shannon) wants said envelope. The cop spends the next hour and a half chasing the messenger. That’s essentially all there is to David Koepp’s Premium Rush. Does there need to be anything more? Most of the early reviews suggest not.
This year may go down in history as the year in which filmmakers remembered the best action films don’t need to be overthought. Simplicity is the way to go with these flicks. So we have films like Steven Soderbergh’s excellent Haywire, which has little more plot than “double-crossed secret government operative beats up a bunch of people” and the incendiary Indonesian martial arts flick The Raid: Redemption, which is nothing more than “cop tries to fight his way out of a high rise full of criminals.” In keeping with that tradition, Koepp uses that flimsy envelope as an equally flimsy excuse for lots of high-speed biking through the streets of New York. If the chases are good enough, that’s all that’s really necessary for a solidly entertaining end-of-summer popcorn flick.
One of the most uncomfortable thrillers you’ll see this year, Craig Zobel’s new film tells a story that would be completely unbelievable but for the fact that all the most shocking elements of it happened in real life. Taking the so-called “strip-search prank-call scam” of the ’90s and early ’00s, in which a man made calls to mostly fast-food establishments pretending to be a police officer and convinced dozens of managers to strip-search young female employees, Zobel concentrates on one of the most awful of the 70 reported incidents that happened over the course of a dozen years. The film is a chilling look at just how easily we are swayed by perceived authority, and while the film does offer viewers a reprieve by allowing them some distance from events, the fact is that many people would do the same thing put in the movie’s scenario, which makes it all the more uncomfortable.
You can read my full review over at NPR.
View the trailer. Opens tomorrow at E
An elderly former burglar, played by Frank Langella, is given a robot to help him out as he gets further into old age and is less able to care for himself, but winds up training his new companion to help him pull minor heists around his small upstate New York town. What sounds like a goofy premise is actually the foundation for a surprisingly emotional look at aging, loneliness, and the ways we interact with technology. It’s also a fantastic showcase for Langella, who perfectly conveys the confusion and sadness of man who is all too aware of the ways his once-sharp mind is beginning to fail him.
Continue reading the rest of this week’s picks over at Washingtonian.
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