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Running Scared (2006)

Art House & International movie

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Yikes! Wildest Rollercoaster Ride from Hollywood

  • Oct 15, 2006
Not for the faint of heart, 'Running Scared' does to gangster shoot-out movies what 'Kill Bill, Vol. 1' did for martial arts. It is a relentlessly bloody, shoot-out rollercoaster romp from the mad genius of writer-director, Wayne Kramer. The action scenes go full-throttle, and the perfected violence is all presented like a paint-ball fight if Pollock were alive to create it. It doesn't spare us any bad language by content or by volume, either. Both the profanity and the racial and ethnic slurs, make 'Boy Scout' seem like it lives up to its title. 'All in the Family,' too, suddenly seems trite even by today's standards. (I guess even real life can be offensive, too.)

The fun, if you can call it that, starts with a high speed escape between mafia member, Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker), and his nine-year-old neighbor, Oleg, fleeing a shoot-out scene on their way to help. Then, the movie backs up to the beginning, for its only major time warp where Joey and his mob members are hanging out in their local meth lab. A rival gang bursts in, and we get an urban turf battle that's too brutal to mention and meant to be seen to be believed. Later, the survivors are fed the bad news: The rival gang consisted of undercover cops, meant to bring them down. Now Joey is in charge of keeping the gun that killed a police officer. He must also retrieve the bullet from the hospital where it was extracted from the victim. Complications are hallmark in this film, and Joey's son's best friend, Oleg Tupersky (Cameron Bright), finds the gun when the two boys are playing in Joey's house. Oleg's family are next-door neighbor Russian immigrants, and his father, Mike, is a member of the rival Russian mafia and keeps a meth lab on the premises. Oleg uses the gun as vengeance against his father's drug induced domestic violence. The rest of the movie is a constant chase to retrieve the gun as Oleg flees the crime scene, and Joey who must answer to his kin in crime to take all traces of guilt away.

Romp, yes. Gratuitous, sometimes. Riveting, you betcha. In the extras, Kramer, himself, states he wished to draw from the vintage movies of the seventies and eighties to make "an intense and gritty" film. He could have fooled us. The film seems to borrow more from 'The Matrix' and 'Pulp Fiction' than any movie I can remember from the seventies. The pace seems modern enough. All of the violent scenes (most of the movie) have frenetic, back-up memory flashbacks that aren't unlike 'Memento,' but edited like faster movies. Much of the venue is artful, but gratuitous can describe portions that do serve an entertainment purpose. 'Running Scared' is over the top, but also scrapes the bottom of the barrel. The scene where Oleg is taken by child abductors couldn't fail to shock all but the most calloused viewer. The smiling abusers show people at their ickiest. Speaking of gratuitous, 'Running Scared' seems like a strange place to be sporting causes. They don't preach much, but there is a sincere attempt to rail against domestic violence and child abduction and exploitation. Joey's wife, Teresa (Vera Farmiga), provides an anchor of decency with her hard-boiled maternal presence. Her speech "I have never seen evil before tonight...I did not marry an evil man," could have been the funniest or stupidest lines delivered in the whole movie, but Farmiga's fine performance prevents it from becoming anything less than authentic. Paul Walker seems underrated given the energy and timing he provides for his maverick role as Joey.

The extras are worthwhile. Oddly, the concise twenty-minute commentary is solid on vision, details, and testimony. Mostly, these portions of DVD's partly ruin the magic. 'Running Scared' is unique in the sense that this prospect is hardly possible for them. This viewer believes this film should be rated NC-17, and bare breasts are the least convincing reason! If you don't take it too seriously, 'Running Scared' is one compelling ride of a movie!

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More Running Scared (2006) reviews
review by . September 25, 2006
Running Scared was one of those movies that I wanted to see but it slipped my mind cause the preview didn't hook me that much. When I saw it in the video store I had to grab it. The most surprising thing about this movie is Paul Walker, he is a mediocre actor if you ask me but in his defense he's been in a lot of teen flicks the past few years. In his most memorable role The Fast and the Furious he was outshined by Vin Diesel but Walker didn't put up much of a fight for best actor in that film. …
review by . July 20, 2006
"Running Scared" defines Cinema Extreme. Why this film didn't do better at the box office is both sad and puzzling. Writer/director Wayne Kramer works both the story and the camera in weird new ways that make the film engaging. He truly sticks to his guns on delivering one of the most uncompromising, memorable and downright brutal thrillers in recent memory.    I wasn't expecting much from this movie with Paul Walker as the star attraction, but this movie was thoroughly entertaining. …
review by . June 13, 2006
On the surface RUNNING SCARED is just another action flick with lots of expletives, violence, bloodshed, trauma, and car chases. But attempt to put the movie on 'slow forward' and this hundred miles an hour paced film has a fine sense of pacing and excellent experimental photography, AND a cast that is up to it. Writer/Director knows this genre well and offers up a polished little frightening film.    Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker, finally given a role in which he proves he indeed …
About the reviewer
John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #99
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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Trying to explain the wildly accelerated plot of this non-stop action thriller would be like convincing Quentin Tarantino to retell the saga ofThe Sopranosin 15-minutes or less. Don't misunderstand,Running Scaredwastes little time on the nuanced details that make the violent, narratively precise, and intricately characterized world ofThe Sopranosso stylish and compelling. But boy, does it have style to spare, not to mention plenty of violence, narrative, and a cast of characters that all engage in a heady battle for your attention. Paul Walker has the unenviable task of fleshing out the role of a low-level mob flunky who's assigned to get rid of a gun that was involved in a bloody drug deal gone bad. When he botches even that little job, it's not just his wife who gets mad at him. Creepily threatened kids, put-upon women who save the day, and an array of pimps, hookers, sleazy gangsters and dirty cops straight ouuta central casting are all part of the intricate jumble of the story (not to mention bullet-time close-ups and a nifty scene that imparts the inherent danger of hockey pucks in a whole new light). It's hard to believe this outlandish piece of ultraviolence came from writer/director Wayne Kramer, the same creative mind that gave us the smooth little caper flickThe Cooler. Don't think about that too hard though. Considering the madcap rush ofRunning Scared's wicked fun and inspired lunacy, you won't have the time to anyway.--Ted Fry
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Genre: Foreign
DVD Release Date: June 6, 2006
Runtime: 122 minutes
Studio: New Line Home Video
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