Premium Rush Movie Wants to Kill Cyclists (video)


Cycling is a huge part of urban life already, and – as gas prices climb and the desire to be more ecologically responsible becomes more mainstream – it is becoming an even huger part.  Even major automakers are starting to push out electric bicycles!  It’s understandable, then, that as bikes and cyclists are enjoying something of a rise to prominence themselves, that someone would come along and make a movie that panders to them.  That movie, “Premium Rush”, is coming soon, and is being billed as a sort-of “Top Gun on bicycles” action movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun) as a super-cool professional bike messenger. The voice-over at the start of the trailer (below) covers the “feel” of his character nicely, I think: “Fixed gear. No brakes. Can’t stop. Don’t want to, either.


Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I remember a time when movies were criticized for promoting violence by being too violent, and promoting devil-worship by being too devil-worshipy (which still happens, I’m sure, in many parts of America). As such, I feel like it’s time to start criticizing “Premium Rush” for encouraging young urban cyclists to do stupid, dangerous things. Stupid, dangerous things like running red lights, running stop signs, splitting lanes at high speed, and riding bikes with no brakes faster than they can see.  Stupid, dangerous things (in other words) that will get people killed.

Don’t get me wrong here, I commute on 2 wheels myself (when I don’t train in) and I’ve been known to lane-split. Heck, I’ve even (gently) nosed my scooter into the bicycle lane once or twice … but this trailer seems to make stupid behavior (like mine!) seem – I dunno.  Cool?

Yeah. That’s a problem – or maybe it isn’t, and we should all just sit back and read about the fallout over on

Enough of what I think, though – take a look at the trailer, and let us know what you think, in the comments.

Source:  Sony Pictures.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • Unfortunately the Internet has been full of clips like this for years and already promoting reckless riding. But this, will probably get more ‘kids’ into thinking it’s the cool thing to do.
    I ride fixed myself with a front brake. I’m not saying I’m a saint, I may jump a red now and then, but never ever when I’m putting myself or anyone else in danger! But, this film – as well as many others online – romanticises reckless riding and it pisses me off! It’s one thing if these idiots only put their life on line, but they don’t! What about the person driving the vehicle!? They might not physically get hurt, but they’ll have to live with the memory for the rest of their lives. But the thing that angers me the most, is that this film will only do damage to the reputation that millions of good cyclists, worldwide, have been trying to build for themselves and their communities. And take attention away from the thing people/governments should be seeing when it comes to cycling – how dangerous it can be even when you’re a good cyclist and that more needs to be done to promote safe cycling. And it won’t make those drivers who already hate us like us any more! My only hope is that this will not make it to the big screen and go straight to DVD and forgotten about.

  • JD

    Yeah Yeah Yeah.. “To step out of line is to risk disaster
    To walk in the rain is to risk pneumonia” As a member of the original punk rock generation I can honestly say I’m probably older then you are, and it’s not a generational thing. Fear is fear, hype is hype and, they mix for some like a good debilitating cocktail. The world has even less to fear from kids riding fixies brake-less then we did from those nuts back in the seventies who thought it was somehow cool to worship the devil after seeing a KISS concert. They greatest dangers cyclists face come from idiot drivers and their automobiles. A fact you should well know considering the fact that you Jo work PR/advertising for the automotive industry.

    • I disagree about the biggest threat to cyclists AND bikers of the motorized variety (not about the KISS/70s thing – you’re dead on there). Simply put: I’ve seen more two-wheelers put themselves in a position where they couldn’t react to a car pulling out in front of them (a popular anti-cager rant) by speeding into said intersection and/or not wearing high-visibility/reflective gear than I have seen the other way around. I’m not saying cars are blameless, though – however, this isn’t a case of “cars bad, bike good” or “cars good, bike bad”. Instead, it’s a simple truism: stupid hurts.

      • Recently here in LA a drunk driver plowwed into sixty cyclists during a large ride. Christine Dahab, later booked for misdemeanor drunk driving injured 11 of them, some so severely they needed extensive hospitalization.

        Local Police were quick to make the same arguments you just made. That the kids were not paying attention, that they put themselves in a dangerous situation, that they were not visible enough.

        They came up with all kinds of crazy excuses for the driver: that the kids were stopped on a blind curve, that Midnight Ridazz rides,with their punk rock reputation attract less then squeaky clean riders. One officer even suggested that empty beer bottles and condoms were found nearby, as if the cyclists were engaged in some kind of drunken orgy before the accident.

        Just for fun we made video of the street the next night.

        Notice that even with only three blinking lights there visibility is not an issue. Now imagine the same scene with sixty such lights. Dahab must of been out of her mind drunk to hit those kids.

        You say that you’ve personally seen more two-wheelers put themselves in a position where they get hurt because of their own negligence then any other reason.

        As avid Motorcyclist and Cyclist I’d say that statement is totally out of touch with reality. I’ve seen it first hand over and over: cars and idiot drivers are by far the greatest danger cyclists and even motorcyclists face on the road today, especially here in LA.

  • based on the trailer:
    -sounds like someone’s using a freewheel
    -looks like someone rides like a total rookie, except for the couple cuts where a professional trials rider hops in for a second.

  • The most direct comparison I can think of is movies which feature car chases and other dangerous behaviour. I can’t recall if there was any outcry about “The Fast and the Furious” or other movies. Are they considered less likely to be imitated? At least people inspired by this will be more of a danger to themselves than others. And it looks like the film will show the consequences pretty graphically, which is not usually the case for car chases, where the people who get hurt are generally villains or extras, without any unpleasant closeups- just a nice clean explosion.

    If anything, I’d worry about the movie giving the impression that urban cycling is only for suicidal daredevils.

    • Fast and the Furious was no more realistic than Lord of the Rings, and cannot be emulated. Seriously, were those like, 17-speed cars? Who drives a 10-second Civic on the road? No-one, that’s who.

  • Kit

    If you’re yearning for the gentler days of bike movies, you’ve apparently never seen Quicksilver.

    • Classic!

    • My first thoughts were Quicksilver 2. This is more like the studios figured out how Morf filmed MASH.

      This film *might* show reckless riding, but that’s what films are about. Over the top real life. No one would go see a movie that was realistic. How boring!

  • You are right – it’s STUPID!! A waste of time and resources…

  • Watching the entire MTV “Jack@ass” franchise of TV shows, movies, spin-off’s and copy-cat shows hasn’t killed off America’s youth. I don’t think this will either.

    I think the movie looks stupid to ME personally. But that’s what happens when people like me get old and forget that as children we thought dangerous law-breaking stupidity like in “Smokey and the Bandit” was super cool!!!

    In summary:


    • Wait, Smokey and the Bandit wasn’t cool? WHAT!?? You’re mad, Nixon. MAD, I tell you!

    • This is why people think you were a bad president.

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  • RiverBoatQueen

    I bike daily about 7.5 miles round trip. I love going fast, but do hit my brakes whenever safety issues arise. My safety, to be honest. I will just LOVE watching this movie which spreads the message about what it’s like to ride on city streets. I think that drivers pay too little attention to bike riders. We are on human power as we pump our legs and pump our hearts out on the streets, while cars, trucks and buses all have the gas pedal and their power-assist brakes. I hope that this movie enlightens all drivers worldwide to the realization that bike-riders are people too. We’re doing the best we can and sometimes we do run red lights because we are exhausted and want to keep our manual momentum going. I think anyone who’s pedaled a bike can understand this.
    Watch out for bikers, my friends! Bikers are your healthiest friends. Peace/out!

  • Chris

    I am primarily a pedestrian, and while I’d agree that this movie romanticizes dangerous riding, I disagree with all these comments that suggest that millions of cyclists are working towards a better reputation for all. My chief complaint is the incessant red light running that I witness every blessed day here in San Francisco. There is NO “safe” way to run a red light. As soon as it’s red, the cross light is potentially green, and that puts the idiot cyclist’s life, and those of the vehicle drivers at risk, immediately. I’ve never heard a good argument for this. In fact, as a pedestrian, I’ve even nearly been hit by a cyclist in the crosswalk.

    So yes, I’m against any movie that makes this kind of idiocy look cool.

    • Red light running and stop sign running is, in my opinion, sort of begging to get hit. Well said.

      • I have to disagree. If I can visibly see far enough down all cross streets as I approach I will run red lights and stop signs, but not without slowing myself to a speed at which I could stop if I had to. It’s exhausting to lose momentum on long commutes. I think it’s paranoid and ignorant to think you’re going to get hit on an empty street. Idaho even passed a law legalizing rolling stop signs for cyclists – the “Idaho stop,”, because there really isn’t much of a risk. I live in Atlanta and a lot of stop signs and traffic lights are on hills – sometimes really steep – and frequently have no cross traffic. If I had to stop every time I hit a traffic light or stop sign, I would be walking my bike a lot more frequently.

        I also constantly spit lanes when riding downtown. I make motorists hate cyclists with envy, when they know I’m making it to work on time and they’re not. It’s the main reason I ride a bike downtown; It cuts commutes in half. That being said, I obey most reasonable traffic laws and generally take all precautions to make myself visible, command my lane and plan my routes to utilize residential streets and bike lanes where possible.

        • Chris

          @Isaac – let me address your points.

          1. “…it’s paranoid and ignorant to think your going to get hit on an empty street.”

          I was walking, as usual. The walk sign flashed on. I was VERY tired and began to step off the curb into the cross walk when WHOOSH, a cyclist shot past. I felt the wind and heard everyone gasp but didn’t realize what had just happened until I saw him racing off into the distance. As I said, I was very tired to begin with. And for the record, it was Market street in downtown San Francisco, quite flat and straight, and the street was anything but empty.

          The fact is, objects moving at 30mph hit HARD. They may not kill every time, but a cyclist hitting someone can do a lot of damage.

          2. “It’s exhausting to lose momentum on long commutes.”

          Well, maybe so. It’s exhausting to do a lot of things. But it’s the law, and you follow the law, because in the case of traffic laws especially, they’re there for a reason. It’s exhausting for me to go to work every day to meet my living expenses. It’d be so much easier on my body if I just went and robbed the local grocery store every month. But then, that’d be breaking the law and potentially hurting others so I elect not to do that, the jail thing aside. How is this not true of violating traffic signals, regardless of your mode of locomotion? And really man, I walk everywhere in the city. It’s exhausting. Get over it.

          3. “I also constantly split lanes when I’m riding downtown.”

          Good for you buddy. Live it up while you can. But see, motorists have a tough time noticing cyclists and pedestrians as it is, and when you’re splitting lanes and playing games in their blind spots like that, they have NO CLUE YOU’RE THERE. You are going to die, and it will hurt quite a lot. So keep on splitting those lanes.

          Then again, if you just leave a little earlier, you could ride safely, legally, and arrive on time.

          I used to love cyclists, bucking the trend and making do without environment destroying gas guzzlers, putting others before themselves. But since moving to San Francisco and witnessing all of the self-righteous, self-centered idiocy so many of them practice as a matter of course, I tend to view them as no better than any motorist.

  • adam

    Being a road and mountain biker this is disappointing. I already get raging drivers trying to push me over the curb, this will just give drivers a reason to hate us even more…

  • Greg