Let's just be glad Smell-O-Vision never caught on. Thankfully, the musky odor of sweaty bike messengers doesn't emanate from director David Koepp's thrill ride, an enjoyable, two-wheeled action film and flashy ode to the subculture of urban couriers.
It's a silly movie predicated on a simple premise, but it's satisfying B-movie entertainment that moves with the swiftness of a Schwinn — a ride made particularly fun by Michael Shannon's enthrallingly comic performance as a dirty cop in mad pursuit of a bike messenger's cargo.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee, a hardened New York City messenger who's forsaken a promising career in law for the freedom of riding the city's congested streets. His dispatch (Aasif Mandvi) sends him on a seemingly innocuous delivery that will prove anything but. Chief among the impediments is Shannon's detective, whose gambling debts in Chinatown have made him desperate for Wilee's lucrative delivery.
Koepp assembles backstories with flashbacks to earlier in the day, but the film moves with pedal propulsion along with numerous chase sequences made with stunts, rather than visual effects. But Shannon as a wide-eyed, exasperated maniac doesn't just steal the movie, he towers over it. In a two-tire film, he's an 18-wheeler.
PG-13 for some violence, intense action sequences and language. 91 minutes. Three stars out of four.