In Premium Rush, rising star Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee, a thrill junkie of a NYC bicycle messenger, one of the many riding through the streets of the city (my own recent jaunt to the United States' most populous city did not witness any cyclists, but maybe it was an off week). Among his peers, Wilee is considered one of the best, and it's his reputation that gets him a premium rush job, transporting one envelope from a friend from one side of the city to the other quickly. But the package turns out to be a hot commodity, as Wilee finds himself dodging Chinese mafia, dirty cops, legit cops, and even rival bike messengers in a bid to get the package delivered on time.
|"Why yes, I WAS that kid from 3'rd Rock!"|
|"What do you mean he's 'not Batman'?"|
|Out-riding all his newfound glory.|
Coolidge Corner Theater. The story of Robot & Frank definitely struck me as a peculiarly odd, but somehow ingenious concept. Set in the near future, it stars Frank Langella as Frank, a mentally-afflicted father and former cat burglar who has strained relationships with his children. When his son (James Marsden) brings him a robot butler (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) to help keep his life in order and remain healthy, Frank is at first distrustful of having the thing around the house, but slowly begins to accept Robot's help. This comes to a head when he discovers that his new companion has no protocol that says that stealing is wrong, prompting Frank to plan a major heist to strike at the rich folk who he believes don't deserve their vast wealth.
On the surface, Robot & Frank has a lot going for it; a great cast (which also includes Susan Sarandon, Liv Tyler and Jeremy Sisto), an interesting hook, and some clever societal statements made it one of the smarter-looking movies this year. And for the most part, that is the correct assumption. Clever in a completely different way than Premium Rush could ever have hoped, this movie is more of an actor's film, with the characters guiding film in a way you don't see much anymore. The acting is all excellent, especially Langella, who might be Oscar baiting if the film can gather any traction beyond the science fiction crowd. If Sam Rockwell's under-loved role in Moon is any indication however, the Academy won't be giving this sci-fi movie any credit anytime soon. That's a shame for both Langella and Sarsgaard, who once again provides the kind of excellent performance we now expect from him. Together, they create a nice one-two punch and are one of the better pairs I've seen in 2012.
|Two of the best performances you'll see this year.|
|Guess who wishes Liv Tyler was elsewhere right now?|