Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Although better known for blockbuster screenplays such as JURASSIC PARK and SPIDER-MAN, David Koepp directed the sparkling and sophisticated 2008 romantic comedy GHOST TOWN, which he co-wrote with John Kamps.  He and Kamps reunite here for his next directorial effort -- a fleet, modest thriller that never overstays its welcome.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Wilee, a New York City bicycle messenger who believes in speed but forgoes brakes and gears, to the chagrin of girlfriend and fellow delivery agent, Vanessa (Dania Ramirez).  His dispatcher sends Wilee on a “premium rush” assignment, and thus the film’s clock starts ticking.  His pick up is from Vanessa’s roommate Nima (Jamie Chung), and the visibly distressed young woman implores Wilee to deliver her envelope only to Sister Chen.  Before Wilee gets on his bike, a suit named Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) intercepts him, claims a mistake has been made, and asks for the package back.  But there are rules in the delivery business, and Wilee takes off with Monday in hot pursuit.  We find out in flashback that Monday has a serious gambling problem and owes many dangerous people.  His best hope is to confiscate Wilee’s envelope, which contains a ticket that he can exchange for sufficient cash to pay off his creditors.  Wilee must use all his resources and skills to outsmart and outmaneuver Monday.  Filled with clever plot twists and exciting bicycle stunts, Koepp and Kamps’ cat and mouse caper also gives its characters sufficient quirks and shading to elevate a charming, low-tech action picture into something a cut above.  And Koepp has a reliable cast to deliver the goods.  Gordon-Levitt is the perfect everyday hero as the reckless but honorable Wilee.  We easily believe both his abilities (he does a number of his own stunts) and his fallibility.  Likewise Shannon makes for a relatable yet reprehensible villain.  We feel for him even as we root against him.  Koepp keeps the film moving at breakneck speed -- breezing past occasional plot contrivances and self-conscious conceits -- to deliver all that he promised and more.

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