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dir David Koepp
prd Gavin Polone
scr David Koepp, John Kamps
with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung, Wole Parks, Aasif Mandvi, Aaron Tveit, Anthony Chisholm, Jian, Nick Damici, Lauren Ashley Carter, Brian Koppelman
release US 24.Aug.12, UK 14.Sep.12
12/US Columbia 1h31
Another narrow escape: Gordon-Levitt and Ramirez
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A profoundly corny plot keeps this movie from ever properly engaging us, as we just laugh at every ridiculous twist and turn. But it's shot with real energy, putting us right on bicycles speeding dangerously through the New York traffic, which keeps our adrenaline pumping all the way through.
Wilee (Gordon-Levitt) is a former law student who would rather speed down city streets as a daredevil courier. He believes brakes are for sissies, and takes a job to deliver an envelope from a friend (Chung) the whole length of Manhattan. But he's immediately set upon by creepy cop Bobby (Shannon), who seems increasingly crazed about getting his hands on this particular envelope. So Wilee calls in his courier pals (Ramirez and Parks) to help get the job done as both the cops and some ruthless gangsters are in hot pursuit.
Koepp's visual approach borders on the hyperbolic, with whizzy camerawork, on-screen graphics and outrageous stunt action right from the start. The film opens with a particularly nasty collision, then cycles (sorry!) back to tell the story from the start, with more flashbacks along the way to fill in various back-stories. This allows Koepp to pack the movie with irrelevant soap-style plot threads, including a half-baked love triangle and a tenacious bike-riding cop (Tveit).
It also gives the cast the space to create snappy characters. Gordon-Levitt is particularly engaging as the likeable, fast-thinking Wilee. He flies through the film as if his life depends on delivering this package, even if he never seems to grasp whatever it is that's at stake here. Meanwhile, Shannon spirals into overwrought scene-chewing mode as Bobby gets increasingly deranged about getting his hands on that envelope. As the women in the piece, Ramirez and Chung are feisty and emotive and utterly incapable of doing anything on their own.
With a string of coincidences, narrow escapes and nonsensical plot points, the narrative doesn't remotely hold water. Bobby could have just gone to the destination to wait for Wilee instead of his constant, yes, Wile E Coyote-style antics. And in the end, the rampantly misogynistic machismo and a gratuitously emotive shift make it all feel rather cheap. But it's so much fun that we don't mind.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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