I like strongly-plotted stories: desire, complication, escalation, etc. But I’m an even bigger fan of good world-building; as long as the filmmaker creates an interesting setting and populates it with convincing characters, I’m a satisfied moviegoer.
The plot for Jurassic Park-scribe David Koepp’s Premium Rush—which resembles the protagonist’s stripped-down bicycle: no breaks, no gears, no stopping—is the very definition of simplicity. New York bike messenger Wilee (like the coyote) picks up a MacGuffin. He must deliver it to such-and-such address by 7:00. Along the way, he finds himself targeted by an implausibly crooked cop, who believes that the contents of the package will help him settle some steep gambling debts.
Whatever the film may lack in emotional depth or narrative complexity, it more than makes up for in world-building. Koepp immerses the viewer in the bike courier community—the friendships, the rivalries, and everything in between. We follow these daredevils (some in it for the money, some—like Wilee—for the thrill) as they weave between taxi cabs, buses, pedestrians. Every character we meet, no matter how minor, has a distinct, vibrant personality. Gradually, we begin to feel like a part of this cozy little counterculture—making it easier to overlook the story’s minor flaws and contrivances, to just enjoy the high-speed ride. No brakes. No gears. No stopping.