The envelope, please.

That's the plot device on which, ahem, rides "Premium Rush," one of late summer's most adrenaline-charged movies.

The title refers to the speed, priority or experience of a New York City bicycle-courier delivering a high-priority message.

Never mind the definition. This film is the fastest thing on reels. You'll grip the arm of your movie theater seat, the person next to you (best to know him or her first) or your reporter's notebook (as was my case).

Director of Photography David Sardy puts you in the driver's, er, bicyclist's seat, with incredible point-of-view footage of Wilee -- as in the cartoon character, Wile E. Coyote -- (rail-thin, buzz-cut and wired Joseph Gordon-Levitt), regarded as the courier company's fastest-man on two wheels.

You will weave in and out of traffic, zoom through intersections and go along for the ride in a scene where a Mazda 6 ("Zoom, zoom, zoom") chases Wilee on his bicycle comparable to that in "The French Connection" (1971).

"Premium Rush," augmented by onscreen graphics of numbers stating the time; maps with animated yellow and white arrows, GPS read-outs and stop-start editing, is one crazy tour of New York City, from Central Park to Columbus Circle to Times Square to Chinatown.

The storyline is intriguing, the plot is smart, and to say more would spoil your enjoyment of the movie, told in a "Memento" (2000) and "Pulp Fiction" (1994) style of shuffling the screenplay deck, whereby the viewer travels backward and forward in time, here during the course of a few hours.

Solid in supporting roles as Wilee's fellow bicycle messengers are Dania Ramirez as Vanessa, Wole Parks as Manny, and Jamie Chung as Nima, from whom Wilee got the mysterious envelope.

Michael Shannon is really creepy and effective as New York City policeman Bobby Monday.

Director David Koepp ("Secret Window"; screenwriter, "Mission: Impossible," "Spider-Man," "Jurassic Park") works from a screenplay he wrote with John Kamps ("The Borrowers").

"Premium Rush" gives a fascinating glimpse into the uber high-energy world of bicycle messengers.

Next time you're in New York City, keep your eyes and wits about you so you don't get run over.

"Premium Rush," MPAA PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for some violence, intense action sequences and language; Genre: Action, Thriller; Run time: 1 hr., 31 min.; Distributed by Columbia Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: Footage of an injured Joseph Gordon-Levitt is shown after the "Premium Rush" credits. Gordon-Levitt rode his bike into a cab and smashed into the rear windshield. He blocked his face with his arms, requiring 31 stitches on his right arm.

Box Office, Sept. 7: "The Possession" possessed the No. 1 spot two weeks in a row in another lackluster weekend with a really low $9.5-million gross and $33..3 million after two weeks, keeping "Lawless" at No. 2 in its second week, $6 million, $23.5 million, two weeks, and getting "The Words" out at No. 3, $5 million, opening;

4."The Expendables 2," $4.7 million, $75.4 million, four weeks; 5. "The Bourne Legacy," $4 million, $103.7 million, five weeks; 6. "ParaNorman," $3.8 million, $45 million, four weeks; 7. "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," $3.6 million, $43 million, four weeks; 8. "The Campaign," $3.5 million, $79.4 million, five weeks; 9. "The Dark Knight Rises," $3.2 million, $437.8 million, eight weeks; 10. "2016: Obama's America," $3.2 million; $26 million, nine weeks; 12. "Premium Rush," $3.9 million, $16.7 million, three weeks;

Box Office, Aug. 31: "The Possession" possessed No. 1, opening with $17.7 for the Labor Day weekend, keeping "Lawless" opening at No. 2, with $10 million for the weekend and $12.1 million since its Aug. 29 opening, making expendable "The Expendables 2," which dropped to No. 3, $9 million, $68.3 million, three weeks;

4. "The Bourne Legacy," $7.2 million, $96.2 million, four weeks; 5. "ParaNorman," $6.5 million, $38 million, three weeks; 6. "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," $6.2 million, $36.1 million, three weeks; 7. "The Dark Knight Rises," $6.1 million, $431.4 million, seven weeks; 8. "The Campaign," $5.7 million, $73.2 million, four weeks; 9. "2016: Obama's America," $5.6 million; $18.7 million, eight weeks; 10. "Hope Springs," $4.6 million, $52 million, four weeks

Unreel, Sept. 14:

"The Master," R: A Naval veteran follows a charismatic leader in a fictional account loosely based on the Church of Scientology. Paul Thomas Anderson directs Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquim Phoenix and Amy Adams in the drama which won multiple top awards at the recent Venice Film Festival.

"Resident Evil: Retribution," R: The fifth installment returns Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez in the battle against the Umbrella Corporation.

"Finding Nemo," G: The animated family comedy is re-released in 3D.

"Liberal Arts," No Rating (as of deadline): Zac Efron and Elizabeth Olsen as a college alum and student in love in the comedy-drama.

"Arbitrage," R: Richard Gere, along with Susan Sarandon and Tim Roth, in a drama about a troubled hedge fund magnate.

"10 Years," PG-13. Channing Tatum and Rosario Dawson in a romantic comedy about friends anticipating their 10-year high school reunion.

"Stolen," R: Nicolas Cage in an action-thriller about a former thief searching for his missing daughter.

Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, tnonline.com. Email Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com [1] and on Facebook.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes