Set Report: Premium Rush

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Published September 17, 2010

PHOTO BY HUNTER STEPHENSON

 

The block of Chinatown referred to in true crime books as the Bloody Angle was sprayed down Wednesday evening until Doyers Street had a noirish sheen, and slick bursts of hot yellow and red reflected strands of paper lanterns. Shooting had commenced, as it has for numerous weeks in New York, on Premium Rush, an action-thriller from director and cowriter David Koepp, known for his frequent screenwriting collaborations with Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park). Next to Gold Flower Restaurant, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon were involved in the latest take of a deadly-seeming climatic showdown.

Levitt, who stars as a New York bike messenger named Wilee, was clad in biker gloves, a red T-shirt, and cargo shorts (along with his nearely identical stand-in). A stream of caked blood on his forearm was partially covered by a bandage. Apparently the bandage (though not the blood), was the result of a real injury. During production last month, Levitt experienced the hazards of his character’s occupation firsthand when his bike collided with a taxi cab, throwing him through the car’s rear window. The aftermath was captured on an iPhone and uploaded to YouTube. Judging by the distraught surprise on Wilee’s face, it seems that Levitt gleaned something from the accident.

Levitt’s clothes and expression were the opposite of Shannon’s, who plays the film’s primary villain, a corrupt NYPD cop in a pinstripe suit who attempts to intercept a mysterious package Wilee is hired to deliver. The night shoot culminated in a spoilerish action sequence that, judging by the fair number who were recruited by the production, should bring a smile–or at least a bemused smirk–to the city’s cyclists when the film is released in 2012. As the cast and crew broke for a meal, cinematographer Mitchell Amundsen (Transformers) seemed characteristically encouraged by the results. Offhand, he drew a parallel between the film’s adrenal immersion in contemporary bike culture and that of the 1986 cyclist drama Quicksilver, starring Kevin Bacon. Personally, I found that the sight of bloody extreme-sport elbows and vengeful heartthrob tears posited in an Asian underworld to be reminiscent of another cinematic contribution to ’80s radness, Gleaming the Cube.