NYC bike couriers to get the Hollywood treatment

23 years after Kevin Bacon's Quicksilver, writer behind Jurassic Park and Spider-Man turns his attention to messenger sub-culture

by Simon_MacMichael   November 16, 2009  

Quicksilver Still 1

There’s plenty of YouTube footage of members of New York City’s bicycle courier fraternity dodging death, taxis, buses – and the odd traffic law – as they race across the city. And now, the Big Apple’s bike messenger subculture is getting the Hollywood treatment in a blockbuster directed by a man behind some of the biggest hits in cinematic history.

You may not have heard of David Koepp, but it’s hard to fault his big-budget pedigree. This is the man, after all, who co-wrote the screenplay for Jurrasic Park with Michael Crichton, and he also single-handedly penned the scripts of box-office action hits including Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man and War of the Worlds.

Sony have green-lighted the movie, called Premium Rush, which Koepp will also direct, and the studio is currently going through the casting process for the lead actor.

Details of the plot are scarce, but what we do know is that it centres around a twentysomething bike courier who picks up a package from Columbia University and is then pursued across the New York City by a bent cop intent on getting his hands on the contents. Whatever’s inside, we’re guessing it’s not the latest book by Simon Schama, the British historian who teaches at Columbia.

An article by Buffalo Bill on the messenger website Moving Target first alerted us to the forthcoming film, and he says: "Hopefully some of the New York guys get jobs as technical advisors. Not because I especially care whether the film is accurate in its portrayal of messengers, but because they could use the money!"

While Koepp’s writing credentials are impeccable, his record as a director is a bit patchier. Last year, he got back behind the camera after a four-year break to direct Ghost Town, starring Ricky Gervais. No disrespect to the British comedian, but we’re guessing he isn’t in the running for the lead in Premium Rush.

It’s not the first time that the world of the bike courier has formed the basis of a Hollywod plot, which received a favourable response from audiences. In 1986, Kevin Bacon starred as a stockmarket trader turned bike courier in Quicksilver (enjoy the trailer below), ostensibly set in New York but filmed mainly in San Francisco. That’ll explain the hills, then.

9 user comments

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So we can expect even more people to get hooked on fixed wheel bikes, trying to pick up on some kind of Hollywood glow.
I still wouldn't ride one on the road myself, fine on the track but gears were a handy innovation.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2114 posts]
16th November 2009 - 22:03

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gears and the freewheel both Smile

actually i ride singlespeed quite a lot in the winter and i can see the point of that - gears need attention and you can do an awful lot of riding with just one. but fixed? doesn't matter how many hipsters try to tell me otherwise, it's a mug's game.

purplecup's picture

posted by purplecup [232 posts]
16th November 2009 - 23:23

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Gear don't need that much attention - I've ridden a lot of miles over the years and it's not as if I have to strip a derailleur every week. Just a bit of oil here and there and a quick brush to get the worst of the dirt off the chain is enough.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2114 posts]
17th November 2009 - 10:15

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OldRidgeback, purplecup - nuthin' like knocking something when you clearly haven't even tried it, eh?

posted by stevboss [19 posts]
18th November 2009 - 0:24

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I have a Boardman single for my dialy commute, its rather nice not to have to think about which gear you are in Thinking

Allez oop

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posted by manonabike [19 posts]
18th November 2009 - 9:46

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stevboss wrote:
OldRidgeback, purplecup - nuthin' like knocking something when you clearly haven't even tried it, eh?

oh, i've tried it. and there are some places where it's ace, those places specifically being the nation's velodromes. but on the road? meh. if you 1) earn a living from your bike, and 2) absolutely positively have to have the most easy to maintain bike, then maybe. so, messengers then. horses for courses as always, but in this case i see a very specific horse that doesn't suit many courses. and lots of people doing it cause it's cool: no problem with that per se, but remember when mountain biking was the cool thing to do? what do we have now? british eagle. apollo. the same will happen to fixed if it remains trendy. at least crap mountain bikes have gears. and brakes.

purplecup's picture

posted by purplecup [232 posts]
18th November 2009 - 10:12

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stevboss - I've ridden fixed wheel bikes a lot on the banked track - they do the job there. But at the traffic lights they're not so good. I've tried riding my mates' bikes over the years on the road and just don't see the point, especially if there are hills or a bit of wind. Coming home yesterday I hit a big headwind, so I shifted down. Try doing that on a no-gear fixie. My BMX is a single speed but at least it has a freewheel - great on the track or at the skapepark but you don't want to ride it too far either.

Been there with the fixie, done that, no thanks.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2114 posts]
18th November 2009 - 10:25

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I ride fixed every winter on the road and yes it is not as much fun on the hills and into the wind but it really keeps your legs supple. I used to scoff but you do get that oneness with the bike thing going on too! I think it improves my roadcraft you need to think/plan ahead much more.
Come the spring I am able to rip the legs off of some guys 10 years younger then me! Film could be good I'll watch out for it!
I love gears but it's good fun fixed as well!

Felix

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posted by Felix [108 posts]
18th November 2009 - 13:59

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Does anyone remember Queen Latifah's, how shall I put it, awesome display of bike messenger skills in the film Taxi?

I truly hope this is better than that...

Complicating matters since 1965

DaSy's picture

posted by DaSy [648 posts]
18th November 2009 - 14:17

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