If you’ll be sufficiently smitten by Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s adorable oopsie-I-almost-hit-a-cab chuckle, there’ll be enough antidote to help you through this 90-minute game of cops and bikers. If not, the fast-paced escapades may leave you nauseated. Gordon-Levitt plays New York bike courier Wilee, gifted with his coyote namesake’s speed and a Spidey-like sense that allows him to decide in a split second which swerving route through a busy intersection will prevent him from slamming into a windshield or killing a baby. The pulsing heart of the film is unquestionably the chase. Wilee is tasked with delivering a mysterious package from Columbia University to Chinatown, with corrupt cop Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon) in hot pursuit. There are only brief respites from the breathless zigzag across Manhattan, the camera zooming out at intervals for a birds-eye view that keeps viewers oriented.
Director David Koepp’s commitment to credibility is admirable, opting for live-action stunt doubles rather than CGI effects. It’s refreshing to see the baby-faced (500) Days of Summer star going balls out into some real danger; Gordon-Levitt even had to get 31 stitches after a particularly rough on-set crash. But stripped of the bike scenes, the movie has little meat to it. Gordon-Levitt’s gorgeous ex-girlfriend, played by Dania Ramirez, and Manny (Wolé Parks), the nemesis vying for her love, are only sort of interesting, and the underground Chinese betting rooms through which Monday make furtive rounds seem little more than bothersome asshole gatherings. There’s little question of a happy ending, but the hunt may keep you hanging on.