Running Scared

Running Scared


Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

I'll admit I knew absolutely nothing about this film until I walked into the cinema. I saw no ads on TV, nor blurbs on the Internet. And as far as I knew it was a remake of the movie with Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines. Well, it's not! It's actually a rather bizarre actioner. I'll get to that in a minute.

First of all, if you are annoyed at the lack of good, old-fashioned 18-rated action movies these days then this will definitely set the balance straight. There are many, many, MANY gory, and sometimes shocking, deaths in Running Scared that make A History Of Violence look like an episode of Rainbow.

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It plays like one of Robert Altman's multi-storied character dramas. At the very beginning we are treated to a bloody gunfight in a motel room after a drug deal goes sour. Head thug Tommy "Tombs" Perello (Johnny Messner) instructs henchman Joey (Paul Walker) to dispose of his gun. He was going to right after dinner but the battered kid next door nicks it to shoot his abusive father and legs it across Brooklyn. Joey must then find him and make up a story to prevent a zillion plot threads (involving crooked cops, rival Mafia families, evil pimps, child rapists/killers) from snapping.

The gun itself is a curious MacGuffin. It passes through the hands of many people whose lives all connect. There doesn't seem to be any main story as the film spends equal amounts of time developing every one and although it seems interesting it also feels like loads of different scenarios crammed together. It's constantly meandering and going in another direction and revealing twist after twist. Yes, it keeps things interesting but by the time the main twist comes at the end you're too exhilarated to care. Running Scared is probably one of those movies that improves upon repeat viewings.

Besides the schizophrenic storyline, what really brings the film down to a 3-star experience is the fact that director Wayne Kramer uses every editing technique he can think of, despite whether it is appropriate or not. This may be technically impressive but it lacks class and pulls the film into a Michael Bay area, where it doesn't belong.

I was also kind of weary of the fact that it headlines Walker. I've never liked any of the teen-oriented movies he's been mugging in but I have to say that this is definitely his most demanding role yet and he tries really, really hard to convince. But I'm still undecided about him. If he can pull off another role like this and ditch the pretty boy image, I'll forgive him for previous crimes.

But the movie's highlight is Cameron Bright, who plays Oleg, the abused kid. He's a way better child actor than Dakota Fanning and can express loads of different emotions even with a blank face. The amount of nasty stuff his character goes through is probably unfamiliar and difficult for someone of his age to understand, yet he handles it extremely well and his scenes with Walker are faultless.

Don't let the lack of publicity put you off. Running Scared is not perfect, but it's far from being a failure. Like I said, it'll probably be better on second viewing, but the first one will still be a thrilling experience.

Reviewed on: 08 Jan 2006
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Running Scared packshot
Looking for a gun in New York is a dangerous business.
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Director: Wayne Kramer

Writer: Wayne Kramer

Starring: Paul Walker, Cameron Bright, Vera Farmiga, Chazz Palminteri, Johnny Messner, Michael Cudlitz, Alex Neuberger

Year: 2006

Runtime: 122 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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