As it turns out, Koepp does have a brilliant plan. He elevates Premium Rush above the generic trappings of the sub-genre by plugging it head-first into the sensibilities of the 1980s pure action film, an aesthetic that employs cartoonish violence, humour and levity, invincible superhuman heroes and vaguely designed and generic villains to achieve a form of screen violence that audiences could take as escapism.
To be honest, it's not easy at all making a pure action film — the violence and levity have to be perfectly balanced and perfectly timed and regularly doled in the film's runtime while leading the audience to the action setpieces. Koepp being the fourth most successful writer-director of all time achieves all this in his usual overachieving style. This film may be about a bicycle courier — hardly what we'd imagine as an invincible hero — zipping through nasty downtown traffic driven by New Yorkers with very short fuses while being chased by crooked cops and the traffic police, but Koepp works in all the prerequisite traits of the pure action film with ingenuity. The cartoon violence for example comes courtesy of split second simulations in the courier's mind as he figures how to beat red lights and make illegal turns just to rush his deliveries.
But Premium Rush is more than just a pure action film. To me, it veers into the realm of science fiction. For a speed freak who believes in taking out the brakes on his bicycle, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's protagonist never has his life imperilled by New York's short-tempered drivers. Despite his stunts, peak hour traffic conditions, neither the protagonist or his colleagues become roadkill. Then again, Kevin Bacon did practically the same thing in Quicksilver, so maybe cyclists in general do have a longer lifespan in the supposedly urban traffic disasters of New York compared to the supposedly safe streets of tiny Singapore, where I'm told the statistics stand at one cyclist death a month on average — and these deaths happen mostly at night near deserted streets.