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Comics of Asian Descent Put Themselves Onstage via @NYTimes

John Kamps Archives -

John Kamps Archives -

Jack Rico


2012/08/24 at 12:00am

Premium Rush

Premium Rush

A bicycle action film? Really? That was the same thing I said when I saw the initial trailer from “Premium Rush“. Whoever made the pitch to the studios must have some amazing verbiage skills because the film, even though it offers plenty of action, it is not persuasive enough to be credible or enthralling.

The absurd premise has New York as background, where a messenger named Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is chased throughout the city by a dirty cop (Michael Shannon) before Wilee delivers a mysterious envelope to Chinatown by 7pm.

The film has some problematic tangents. The first is the concept of bicycle messengers. There are few cities that can offer such a business, such as New York, but Los Angeles nor London can. The infrastructure of their streets does not allow it. Will residents of provinces or suburbs be interested or connect with the storyline? If we who live in the Big Apple don’t care at all, I can’t see middle America doing so either.

Secondly, it seems silly to think that a film about bicycles can develop suspense, tension and excitement. If you think about it, the worst that can happen if a bike hits me at full speed is a break a bone. I’ll survive. It’s very similar to what happened to filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan in “The Happening“. Was I supposed to have nightmares about a few trees?! The gaul.

If I have to compliment something from “Rush” is the action. It is relentless. The escape sequences are very swift and can even entertain to a degree, but after the first hour it becomes monotonous because there is only so much juice one can squeeze from cycling? Director David Koepp, who is a very technical director, has yet to learn how to inject emotion into these scenes. The chase sequences are visually appealing, but they fail to make us give a hoot. You want to know what great chase scenes are? Watch “The French Connection” or even “We Own the Night“. Those two really are memorable.

In terms of performances, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, star of the film and an actor who has had an excellent streak of wonderful and memorable movies with the likes of “Inception”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, “(500) Days of Summer”, “50/50” and the future releases of “Looper” and “Lincoln” by Steven Spielberg, does not connect here. It isn’t because he is a bad actor, it is that director Koepp’s script does not allow him nor the rest of the cast to showcase their skills. The star in truth is the action.

Michael Shannon, the antagonist to Gordon-Levitt, is a very peculiar actor. The man seems crazy, but you can always count on him to delivers memorable performances. Just watch his scenes in “Revolutionary Road” with Leonardo DiCaprio. The Dominican actress Dania Ramirez, who is always compared with Zoe Saldana, has plenty of screen time, but does little for one to remember her performance, then again what do you expect from a “cycling action movie”? I am sure that her persistence will lead to a role where she can shine.

In short, I give “Premium Rush” an A for effort and creativity, but perhaps Koepp was the wrong guy to direct. The film felt forced and manufactured. Does it deserve to be seen you might ask? Perhaps out of curiosity, but not for its entertainment value.

Mack Chico


2008/09/19 at 12:00am

Ghost Town

Rated: PG-13 for for some strong language, sexual humor and drug references.
Release Date: 2008-09-19
Starring: David Koepp, John Kamps
Film Genre:
Country: USA
Official Website:

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Ghost Town

Ghost Town is one of those romantic comedies that never quite clicks. At times, its humor is effective, provoking chuckles and laughs. At other times, the comedy feels forced and awkward. The romantic element is equally hit-and-miss. The chemistry that emerges between the leads during the film’s second half is largely absent from the first 45 minutes. And the premise, rich with promise and pregnant with possibilities, is reduced to a plot device that allows Ghost Town to turn into a low-rent, modern-day version of A Christmas Carol.

The movie’s opening scene is a winner, with philanderer Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) having a phone conversation with his wife, Gwen (Téa Leoni), who has just discovered he’s having an affair. Frank wraps up the call just as the curtain falls on his time on Earth. Director David Koepp orchestrates his end brilliantly, with a sleight-of-hand that is both funny and surprising. However, instead of making his way to the next life, Frank finds himself stuck in Manhattan as a ghost. He can see and hear everything, but is invisible and unable to do more than observe. Enter Bertram Pincus, D.D.S. (Ricky Gervais), the most unpleasant dentist in the city.

Ghost Town’s comedy is maddeningly inconsistent. Masterful sequences such as the opening one in which Frank meets his demise are interspersed with episodes that not only don’t work on a comedic level, but run on for too long. Consider, for example, an interchange between Bertram and his doctor (played by Kristen Wiig) in which both continuously interrupt each other. Like a bad, unfunny segment of Saturday Night Live, this drags on seemingly without end, becoming increasingly frustrating with every new interruption. Comedy is supposed to be funny, not annoying.

Those who take a glass half-full approach to Ghost Town will probably enjoy it the most. There is romance, there is comedy, and there is a feel-good ending. For some, those things will be enough, and the fact that they’re not as well developed or effectively nurtured as they might be will not be a significant detraction. Ultimately, however, the movie cries out for an offbeat approach such as the one Marc Forster utilized in Stranger than Fiction. Ghost Town’s unwillingness to escape from a safe orbit keeps the movie trapped in mediocrity.

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