Movie Reviews: Premium Rush & Arbitrage

Late summer is an odd time to be for movies.  The mega-budget blockbusters are gone and the serious, Oscar-contenders films have yet arrived.

Two interesting thrillers are currently playing at the theaters, one is action, “Premium Rush” and the other crime drama, “Arbitrage.”  Both are refreshing in a sense that they’re old-fashioned.  “Premium Rush” is a unique action flick without all the CGI and “Arbitrage” is reminiscent of the suspense thrillers of the 90s.

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“Premium Rush”

‘Wilee’ (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, “Inception,” “The Dark Knight Rises“) is a law school graduate who chooses to forgo the suits for the streets.  As a bike messenger, he lives on the edge and thrives on the thrill of speed and simplicity.

One afternoon an urgent delivery goes wrong.  A seemingly simple task of delivering an envelope from a sender to the recipient turns into a life-and-death chase through the crowded streets of Manhattan.  He gets tailed by a determined, bad cop, Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) and equally determined, good cop on bike wheels (Christopher Place), albeit each with a different purpose.  Meanwhile, competition with a fellow bike messenger, ‘Manny’ (Wole Parks) is also heating up, involving a girl ‘Vanessa’ (Dania Ramirez), also another messenger.  Wylie’s interactions with and pursuit from the bad and good cops generate a lot of laughter.  The final escape out of the impound lot is inventive.

Alternative routes show visually interesting (not to mention incredibly hilarious!) scenarios with people flying in the air, a bystander gets run over by a truck, bike messenger gets hit by a bus or “doored” by a cab.  The story is skimpy story but delivers premium thrill.  This bare bones, intense bike chase flick is a late summer rush of fun!

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“Arbitrage”

In “Arbitrage,” Richard Gere is a man in deep trouble.  As Robert Miller, he’s the head of a hedge-fund empire and appears to be the symbol of success.  Wealth, Wall Street fame, a beautiful wife (Ellen; Susan Sarandon), son, and daughter (Brooke; Brit Marling) as likely successor.

At a glance, the corporation is doing well and in the process of being bought for massive profit.  Robert seems content to step aside to pursue other interests or spend more time with family.  In reality, however, the company has suffered hundreds of millions of losses due to some bad investments, and Robert has inflated the value by cooking the books and plugging the holes through a temporary loan.  The buyout process, which involves a number of prolonged audits and reviews, ends with a cool ping-pong of power and deal closing over a napkin.

As if it’s not complicated enough, Robert tops it off by having an affair with a French art-gallery owner, Julie Cote (Laetitia Casta) until tragedy strikes.  With a detective (Det. Michael Bryer; Tim Roth) hot on his trail, he’s forced to turn to an unlikely source, and a young man’s life hangs in the balance as a result.

Gere still has “it.”  Throughout his indiscretion and predicament, he expresses a range of emotions well.  And he has the charm and shrewdness to play the game of duplicity and infidelity, and layers of cover-ups that you’ll almost want to root for him to beat the system and get away with all.  Marling and Sarandon are strong supporting casts, although underused.

There’s nothing particularly memorable about “Arbitrage,” but anyone who is into crime drama would enjoy.  Studios rarely makes this type of film anymore; it’s a solid thriller.

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Copyright (c) 2012. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, lifestyle/travel writer and film columnist. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com. Nathalia owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven (http://sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: http://twitter.com/the_moviemaven

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