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In Michael Shannon’s Career of Wild Roles, Premium Rush Is His Wildest

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Even though it is now only a decade old, Premium Rush feels like it would never be made today. There’s not anything particularly challenging or subversive about David Koepp’s high concept chase movie, but it represents the exact type of project that is so often denied a theatrical release, and sent directly to streaming. Mid-budget star vehicles with no award season or franchise prospects are almost entirely absent in the modern Hollywood ecosystem.

Premium Rush is a mystery action-thriller set within the intricate world of New York City bike messaging. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Wilee, a disillusioned Columbia Law School graduate who ditched the prospects of a legal career for the excitement of delivering messages in the Big Apple. Wilee thinks that he’s not prepared for the responsibility that comes with the law, but the world of crime has a way of finding him. He’s tasked with delivering a message that makes him the target of a corrupt NYPD officer.

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Premium Rush is worth celebrating purely for what a novelty it is now, but it deserves a rewatch because of one of its key performances. Michael Shannon’s role as the dirty cop Bobby Monday is one of the most unhinged performances of his career. That’s no small statement. Shannon is the same guy that pried his own teeth out in Bug, masqueraded as Elvis Presley in Elvis & Nixon, screamed about cookies in Knives Out, convinced Jake Gyllenhaal to commit torture in Nocturnal Animals, and delivered the infamous “I will find him!” line in Man of Steel. He’s got a career of wild roles, but Premium Rush is one of his craziest yet.

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Monday is a characteristically gruff New York cop who’s seriously addicted to gambling. In order to clear his debts, Monday accepts a job from the loan shark Mr. Lin (Boyce Wong). He’s brought in to intercept a ticket before it’s delivered to Sister Chen (Wai Ching Ho). The ticket will grant passage from the United States to China for the young woman Nima’s (Jamie Chung) family. Wilee works his way into the plot because he’s dating Vanessa (Dania Ramirez), Nima’s roommate.

The smuggling subplot complicates what is a relatively straightforward manhunt movie. Concerned due to the critical contents of the letter, Nima has Wilee dispatch the letter to Sister Chen. Monday observes this happening, and desperately tries to track down Wilee. In one of the more inadvertently hilarious moments in the film, Monday pretends to be the head of campus security in a hasty attempt to convince Wilee to hand over the message. Wilee adheres strictly to the rules and refuses, mostly in an attempt to irritate Monday. Shannon proceeds to dial it up to 11, and threatens Wilee’s entire family if he doesn’t comply.

Shannon’s eccentricity could probably be enjoyed in a YouTube compilation of clips, but his sheer depravity ends up elevating the entire story. Initially, Wilee is a dismissive, slightly dull protagonist; it’s clear that “finding a direction in life” is meant to be his character arc, but he’s so adverse to ambition within the beginning of the film that he’s difficult to relate to. Monday gives him the opportunity to do the right thing. What starts off as Wilee’s effort to annoy a rude passerby ends up giving him responsibility for the future of Nima’s family.

To Wilee, Monday is just one of the many strange characters he’s bound to meet on any given day, but Koepp establishes earlier that he’s much more dangerous than that. Monday turns the tables on a gang of shady debt collectors in one of his best freakout moments; as he’s slamming the collector into a street corner, Monday gives an incoherent speech about the merits of the law. Koepp doesn’t necessarily use this to make a larger point about police corruption, but the terror of being a fugitive sinks in for Wilee. When he tries to report Monday to the police, he’s shocked to learn that he’s a detective. If someone like that is able to hold authority, then Wilee is truly on his own.

Shannon gets to deliver a signature “third act villain speech,” but it actually ends up giving Wilee the motivation that he needs to have his “hero moment.” Monday knows how to torment Wilee, and presses on his ribs to make cycling more challenging for him. Monday asks for one-word answers; he sees the situation as black-and-white. This may have been how Wilee observed his profession before, but he now knows that this situation is more complex than that. If Wilee abandoned his legal pursuits because he couldn’t handle the pressure of authority, then why should that same responsibility be given to someone like Monday?

Doing right by Nima and deceiving a corrupt authority figure is enough to get Wilee to pull a trick. It also allows Koepp to show the merits of the unique subculture of bike messengers that he has been exploring. Wilee’s fellow messengers come into overwhelm Monday, giving him time to deliver the letter. It shows that Wilee has inspired his community to work for the common good, but it also gives Shannon a chance to flail around and act like a maniac.

There are many “bad movies” that are elevated by a ludicrous bad guy, but Shannon’s Premium Rush performance is more than just an over-the-top showcase role. He’s the type of villain who makes the hero more compelling and adds a thematic subtext that the film barely touches on. It’s very specific, but also very weird. Basically, it’s everything that you would expect from the genius of Michael Shannon.


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‘You can’t have cops watching cops’ — NYPD officer, ex-cop lawyer sue NYC — Queens Daily Eagle

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Lee’s  complaint claims that the named defendants — NYPD brass, including former Commissioner Bill Bratton, and several allegedly crooked cops — “have engaged in retaliatory action, consisting of a persistent campaign to harass, defame, threaten, intimidate, extort, and endanger [Lee’s] life.” The NYPD has denied him “hundreds and hundreds” of hours of overtime and fair compensation for his undercover workload, when he would clock out at the station house so as not to tip off his colleagues, he said.

Meanwhile, Internal Affairs has swept his allegations under the rug in order to protect high-ranking and well connected cops — a routine exercise in the NYPD, Lee and Murray said.

“It’s everyone. This is job-wide,” Lee said. “You have a good cops who are there trying to do a good job. Trying to do their work, then you have other people who have other agendas saying, ‘No, don’t do that.”

Lee said the notion that the NYPD can police itself is the root of the problem.

“Let’s say the feds come in and say, ‘Hey, we want to investigate the Latin Kings and the Latin Kings say, ‘OK. We’ll investigate ourselves and we’ll let you know what’s going on.’”

Murray said the NYPD is desperate to protect top officials.

“They will crush the low-level cops,” Murray said. “It’s the bosses protecting the bosses, because they’re looking out for each other.”

A spokesperson for the New York City Law Department declined to comment on the lawsuit.

“We don’t try cases in the press,” the spokesperson said. “We’ll respond to the complaint in due course.”

The NYPD declined to comment on pending litigation and referred questions to the city Law Department.

A nightmarish ‘dream job’

The 109th Precinct in Flushing was a “dream job” for Lee, who is Chinese-American and speaks Mandarin.

“I finally got to help my people, to help my own community,” he said, recalling an instance when a Chinese woman who didn’t speak English came into the station house and described a sex trafficking operation. Since he understands Mandarin, he was able to translate for her and led cops to the home of a man who allegedly kidnapped the woman and forced to perform sex work at night.

Nevertheless, the 109th was marred by controlling cliques and low morale, he said.

Things should have changed for the better when the NYPD brought in a “straight cop,” Capt. Thomas Conforti, to take over the precinct. But several of the cops bristled at Conforti’s arrival.

Officers were allegedly paid off in a scheme to protect a number of Flushing karaoke bars that contracted with an ex-cop’s security firm. They didn’t like the change in command, Lee said.

The bars doubled as drug dens and brothels connected with organized crime figures from the local Chinese community, he said.

When one fellow cop told Lee about a plan to get one of the sex workers, known as a “PR girl” to “get rid of” Conforti by accusing him of rape, Lee decided to alert Conforti. A few days later, Internal Affairs asked Lee to record the cops discussing the “rape frame-up” plan, the suit claims.

Lee said he had no choice but to accept the role. He quickly realized that he had just scratched the surface of the corruption.

The cop who proposed the frame-up job was involved in the wider scheme to enable drug-dealing and sex work in the karaokes, Lee said.

“Something fishy’s going on. You sure you want to do this? Because it seems like you’re opening a whole can of worms,” Lee said he told his Internal Affairs handlers. They encouraged him to continue working undercover and recording what happened at the karaoke bar.

“During this time, [Lee] learned of a far greater scheme of corruption, involving a huge network of police-protected karaoke bars, in exchange for free alcohol and free prostitutes,” the suit states. “In addition to free alcohol and free prostitutes, [Lee] learned that high-ranking police personnel were also receiving large regular stipends, of thousands of dollars per month.”

On one occasion, Lee and other officers arrived at a bar to conduct a routine inspection — one that the bar owner was already alerted to by other officers. “I’m supposed to find nothing,” Lee said.

This time, though, Lee and two other officers found a handful of people sniffing cocaine in one of the private rooms, he said. They moved to arrest the suspects who were in possession of a large quantity of drugs, but Lee’s Internal Affairs handlers told him to tell the other two cops to let the suspects go. Arresting them could have jeopardized the investigation, he said the handlers told him.

After 18 months of taping and documenting illegal operations and the officer-backed protection scheme, the NYPD refused to pursue charges against any of the people involved, however, Lee said.

Instead, he said, they used the two low-level cops who released the drug dealers as “sacrificial lambs,” forcing them out of the department.

Lee persisted and tried to rally Internal Affairs to pursue additional charges, but they declined. Soon, he said, he began to experience a pattern of harassment by supervisors and administrators.

Flashbacks for Murray

Lee’s experience hit home for Murray, a former cop in the 115th Precinct.

Murray first got on the brass’ bad side after a confrontation with another cop who had allegedly roughed up his friend. The rival cop shoved Murray and Murray threw a punch broke that the man’s jaw, he said. Murray beat the departmental charges against him but said he became persona non grata.

“I took the side of the perp [his friend] and the department hung me out to dry,” he said.

The ill will intensified when Murray questioned a new policy that replaced experienced, trained officers on the DWI Unit with rookie cops because of overtime concerns.

“They figured they were going to take all these rookies, put them on the midnight shifts and assign them arrests for DWI, and do it on straight time,” he said. “But they gave them barely any training and they’re telling them to stick their head in the cars and take a whiff.

“They were just looking for numbers and the rookies are pups. They’ll do what they’re told,” he continued.

Murray said some directives endangered cops and others, like going after drivers who seemed to deliberately avoid checkpoints, violated the law.

‘The commanding officer of the unit got very upset with me because I kept trying to fight back,” he said. “It’s so hard for the rookies to stand up for themselves and so I locked horns with him.”

The commanding officer sent Murray back to the 115th, where he saw a colleague get suspended by the Civilian Complaint Review Board over what he considered a bogus charge. He wrote a letter to the police commissioner.

“So now I get known as a letter-writer,” he said. “The new [Commanding Officer] comes in, calls me into his office and says, ‘I got the story on you. You’re not allowed to write any letters unless you come to me first.’”

Eventually, Murray retired from the force and pursued his law degree.

Lee said he has no such plans just yet.

“If I quit now, I’d be throwing away 14 years of my life. I wouldn’t get a pension,” he said. “I’d be letting them win … This has to stop.”


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Warnock Fundraises With Tom Steyer After Voting for Legislation That Poured Billions Into Green Energy

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Events come amid global surge in energy prices as Democrats vilify fossil fuels

• September 30, 2022 4:30 pm

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D., Ga.) raked in cash from wealthy green energy moguls at a series of San Francisco fundraisers last weekend, a month after voting to pass legislation that steered billions to climate initiatives and the green energy industry.

During his West Coast fundraising swing, the senator partied with billionaire investor Tom Steyer, biofuels CEO Wade Randlett, and “Defund the Police” advocate Meena Harris, the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, according to photos. Steyer cohosted an event for Warnock in San Francisco on Saturday, along with NextGen America board member Andrea Evans, according to an invitation for the fundraiser. Randlett cohosted an event for Warnock on Friday.

The parties came weeks after Warnock voted for the Biden administration’s budget reconciliation bill—officially dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act—and highlight the cozy relationship between Democratic political leaders and the lucrative green tech industry. The legislation poured billions into green energy initiatives and is expected to benefit industries in which Steyer is an investor, according to analysts. The fundraisers also come amid a global surge in energy prices, with many Americans struggling to pay utility bills, and as Democratic lawmakers continue to vilify the fossil fuel industry.

Steyer, a Democratic donor who ran a short-lived campaign for president in 2020, launched a “climate investment fund” called Galvanize in 2021 with a goal of investing “billions” into decarbonization companies. The fund’s reported investments include Regrow Ag, a startup that “aims to help accelerate the shift to climate-friendly farming” and Arable, which seeks to “create a more sustainable food supply.”

Both Regrow Ag and Arable were named as companies that are likely to benefit from a $20 billion earmark in the federal spending bill, according to an analysis published by the clean energy investment firm G2 Venture Partners on Aug. 17, the day after the bill was signed by President Joe Biden.

The bill “has earmarked $20B to (1) target methane and nitrous oxide emission reduction (e.g. Arable, Trace Genomics), (2) improve soil carbon and nitrogen content (e.g. Pivot Bio), and (3) avoiding / sequestering GHG emission (e.g. ProducePay, Regrow, Cloud Agronomics),” wrote G2 Venture Partners.

Steyer praised the passage of the bill as the “culmination of a decade of advocacy and persistence.” Earlier this month, he attended a party at the White House celebrating the legislation.

The Friday fundraiser was cosponsored by Randlett, a biofuels mogul and CEO of the transportation fuels division at General Biofuels. The spending bill extended the biodiesel tax credit and was praised by leaders in the biofuels industry.

“This bill represents the most significant federal commitment to low-carbon biofuels since the Renewable Fuel Standard was expanded by Congress in 2007,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Geoff Cooper in a statement applauding the bill.

Andrea Evans, a board member at Steyer’s nonprofit group NextGen, also cohosted the Saturday Warnock fundraising event.

The Inflation Reduction Act has faced some criticism, with Republicans arguing that it will raise taxes while steering federal funds to Democratic constituencies. Warnock praised the bill, saying it will “help lower costs for families in every corner of our state—all without raising taxes for hardworking Georgia families. That’s a win-win.”

Photos from Warnock’s California fundraising trip also show him posing with his arm around Meena Harris, an Instagram lifestyle influencer and the niece of Kamala Harris. Meena Harris is a vocal advocate for the “defund the police” movement.

“Defund the police and reallocate funds to mental health and social services. This shouldn’t be controversial,” wrote Harris in one Twitter post.

She later expanded on this by adding: “To everyone in my mentions policing my language, let me clarify: Defund the police. Defund the police. Defund the police. Defund the police. Defund the police. Defund the police. Defund the police. Defund the police. Defund the police. Defund the police. Defund the police.”

The senator is the party’s top fundraiser for the midterm cycle, pulling in a whopping $17 million last quarter in his competitive faceoff against Republican challenger Herschel Walker.




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China setting up overseas police stations, including one in US, to bring back 'fugitives' – KATV

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