First Hit: An entertaining and “fun ride” kind of film.
The ending was never in question, but what makes this film very watchable is the bike riding through Manhattan.
We’ve all seen bike messengers in our major cities, and it’s always fun to speculate what their world is like. Does this film do this, probably not, but it does provide one person’s view as to why it is the right job for them right now. Wilee (Yes, his nickname is Wiley coyote), played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is a former law school student who discovers he’s just not the gray suit type of guy.
His job as a bike messenger gives him pleasure he cannot find anywhere else. His bike is a point of pride because it has one gear, cannot coast and has no brakes. He always has to keep pedaling and because of this, he’s in perpetual motion riding through the city full-on, all the time. He “sees” options through the various obstacles which confront him on a moment by moment basis and finds his path through them.
The film takes place over a 2 hour time period when he picks up an envelope and delivers it by 7:00 PM. Not a big deal right? It is to a cop who needs to get a hold of the same envelope. The cop Bobby Monday (played by Michael Shannon), has a huge gambling debt and getting the envelope’s contents and delivering it to his debt holders will excuse his debt and the death he caused.
Wilee’s girlfriend Vanessa (played by Dania Ramirez) wants a different lifestyle so she is trying to break up with him. She’s tired of the rough and tumble life of a messenger. Vying for her attention is Manny (Wole Parks) who rides a bike with multiple gears and brakes and claims to be a better rider and man than Wilee.
To bring a level of laughter to this film, there is an ongoing sequence about a bike cop (played by Christopher Place) trying to chase down Wilee because he breaks bicycle laws and runs red lights. As I said, the fun in this film is the riding and Wilee’s avoiding being caught by Bobby for one reason and by the bike cop for another.
Gordon-Levitt is outstanding in both attitude and physicality as Wilee. I believed him in this role. Shannon had just the right level of being stupid, arrogance and bullying in the various type scenes he was given. Ramirez was OK, added some female energy to the film but it was not necessarily needed. Parks was very good as Gordon-Levitt’s competitor for both Ramirez and bike riding. Place was wonderful as the determined bike cop who was going to get his man. Aasif Mandvi as Raj the bike rider’s dispatcher was perfect. David Koepp and John Kamps wrote a fun script and story that didn’t dawdle. Koepp did a wonderful job of choreographing some great bike riding scenes and made it feel as I would imagine it to be like riding in NYC – dangerous.
Overall: This film is very watchable, fun, and very entertaining.