This is the hippest film of the year of all the ones that I have seen. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is rapidly becoming my favorite star. This is a very cool, very well done chase film. Gordon-Levitt plays an unlikely character, a recent law school grad who doesn’t take the bar exam. Instead, he gets a job running other people’s packages and messages around the jam-packed streets of New York City. Not entirely crazy. A good friend of mine got his law degree and instead of taking the bar exam he went to Alaska and became a cook. But Gordon-Levitt in this one likes the speed and danger of riding around the Big Apple as fast as he possibly can.
In New York coyotes are called snake heads, at least in the Chinese illegal immigrant community. The package the Gordon-Levitt caries is a receipt for $50,000, the savings of a desperate Chinese woman who wants to slip her young son into America. A dirty cop who loses money in some incomprehensible Chinese gambling game needs the 50 large as well and is perfectly willing to kill the messenger to get the scratch. It all happens quickly because a ship is about to leave China and the money must be in the hands of the snake head absolutely, positively by 7 p.m.
Gordon-Levitt has made some extraordinary films, from “Angels in the Outfield” in 1994 to the wonderful independent films “Brick” (a must see film noir crime flick set in a contemporary California high school) and “500 Days of Summer” to his more recent big budget Hollywood block busters “Inception,” “G.I. Joe: the Rise of the Cobra” and this year’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” He is an outstanding actor.
His co-star is Dominican-born Dania Ramirez, a 33-year-old Latin beauty who appeared on the popular TV show “Heroes.” She also had roles in “X-Men: the Last Stand” and the exciting Zombie flick “Quarantine.” She is very fit as another bicycle messenger.
Director David Koepp does an adequate job in this his fifth outing as a director. This is essentially a long chase movie, but Koepp does put in the things that make it fun, including several episodes with a bicycle riding policeman. But it is Koepp’s effort as a writer that he will be remembered for. He has penned such major action hits as “War of the Worlds,” “Spider Man,” “Mission Impossible” and “Carlito’s Way.” His writing is quite good where his direction is workman like. John Kamps shares the writing credit.
It made me feel young again to see this three-and-a-half saw blade action flick. It has a PG-13 rating, but not much in the way of extreme language, no naked people (but Ramirez is in a tank top throughout the film) and only two murders. I think I like this one more than the general public. It cost $35 million to make and has only taken in $18 million in two weeks. It runs a fast-paced 91 minutes.
Gordon-Levitt will be back in a week or two in a time travel/crime movie with Bruce Willis called “Looper.” The young actor is on a very good roll.