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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.75%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 3.13%
Pretty Bad: 3.13%
Total Crap: 25%

6 reviews, 28 user ratings

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Running Scared (2006)
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by brianorndorf

"Pure and unfiltered garbage"
1 stars

As joyless, synthetic, and vile as the worst violent video game, “Running Scared” is one dreadful movie. Reveling in cheap, aggressive violence, the picture rambles on endlessly trying to pass itself off as a slick crime thriller. Instead, writer/director Wayne Kramer blows all the goodwill he gathered with “The Cooler” to make a tiresome piece of hipster cinematic garbage.

The only job small time hood Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) has in his criminal organization is to get rid of the guns used during violent acts. When one of those firearms ends up in the hands of 10 year-old Oleg (Cameron Bright, “Birth”), who uses the gun to shoot his abusive, meth-addicted father, it sends Joey off on a wild night trying to recover the weapon before his bosses find out about the mix up, and attempt to protect his own family (including Vera Farmiga) from the violence that constantly pursues him.

As a film critic, you get used to watching films detailing gruesome moral decay and the general depravity of the criminal underworld. Still, “Running Scared” stopped me dead in my tracks. Here is a motion picture that positively revels in vile underbelly material, taking the face of the viewer and rubbing it in whatever repulsive side of life it can find with its greasy, bloodstained hands. It comes from the “Grand Theft Auto” school of thinking: extreme violence and reprehensibility equals fun and games. But what works on the video game console doesn’t translate to the screen in this case, resulting in a flat-out atrocity of storytelling design that requires a thorough shower after viewing.

Writer/director Wayne Kramer made an unfussy Hollywood debut with the mild 2003 gambling drama, “The Cooler.” With “Scared,” Kramer is out to prove he’s no frivolous filmmaker, taking his screenplay to the extreme limits of content right off the bat. “Scared” trudges heavily through such sunny diversions as: spousal and child abuse; drug addiction; gunfights (most involving children); torture; suicide; unbridled misogyny (there’s a good case here to suggest that Kramer hates women); and most egregiously, pedophilia and (unseen, thank heavens) child dismemberment, found in the film’s most horrendous and wildly miscalculated idea for entertainment. As a bitter coating to all this ugliness, Kramer has found a troupe of actors who have no clue how to improv their way through the nitwit dialog (that includes John Wayne idolatry and a goon quoting the “Priceless” MasterCard commercial), and rely lazily on various incarnations of the F-word, or toss in some racial epithets to add some spice to the gruel.

Normally, this toxic brew wouldn’t be nearly that offensive, but Kramer shows incredibly unreasonable directorial incompetence throughout the entire film. Approaching the material like a first year film student constipated with “gnarly” visual ideas, yet only allowed one movie to realize them in, Kramer does the Curly Shuffle trying one-up himself with wild CGI-aided tracking shots, frenzied editing, and juvenile lighting effects – including the finale set at a hockey rink lit with black lights (yeah, you read that right). All this eye candy is woven tightly into the film, making the director’s predictable, late-in-the-game stabs at genuine emotional response profoundly hilarious. “Scared” would be more effective as a cartoon if it wasn’t so willing to get ugly in order to shock the audience into awe. And the film could pass as pulse-quickening thriller if it didn’t resemble at times a miserable, poorly arranged video game you might find collecting dust in a Wal-Mart discount bin. “Scared” wants to be many things to many audiences, but instead it’s simply a catastrophe.

So what keeps this floating cinematic garbage barge from overturning? Well, it isn’t Paul Walker, who retains his death grip on the one facial gesture he has; which resembles me when I’m asked to solve complex math equations. No, the one actor to survive this debacle is Vera Farmiga, who is the lone performer capable of making Kramer’s drivel seem forgivable. Granted she’s not an albino pimp, a track suit-wearing “Forrgitttabouit” mafia cliché, or a placid suburban child porn producer, but she manages to make the thankless role of Joey’s thong-clad homemaker wife sparkle with intelligence and passion.

Without Farmiga to provide the miner’s helmet shred of illumination for this dark tale of criminal woe, I can’t imagine how much worse “Running Scared” would’ve been. And to sleep soundly tonight, I won’t even consider the horrors to be found in that line of thought.

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originally posted: 02/24/06 15:50:24
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User Comments

9/01/11 Quigley This film is on some serious drugs. Tiring and eventually quite annoying. 2 stars
11/16/09 art HORRIBLE! 1 stars
8/02/09 Jerome C. great flick! Brianorndorf and Paul Bryant suck dick! 4 stars
1/04/09 caiphn Absolutely terrible. What the fuck is wrong with people? 1 stars
2/11/08 Pamela White action and good screen play 4 stars
10/23/07 Pim L This is a very good movie, don't care what you say. Go back to moviereviewguyschool. 5 stars
7/02/07 Thoithoi O'Cottage The best-edited film I have ever seen. I want my film to be edited by Arthur Coburn. 5 stars
5/01/07 Monday Morning The feelgood film of the year! 5 stars
4/05/07 Matt Another "what the fuck was tghat all about movie." Just what the world doesn't need. 1 stars
3/25/07 Steve Newman Absolutely outstanding - I would recommend to anyone 5 stars
2/08/07 Andre urbani stupid, but in a good way 4 stars
1/27/07 AJ Muller Stands with Freeway as a modern-day twisted fairy tale; easily offended need not apply. 4 stars
1/09/07 Zaw Very good action flick, good editing, good screen play, I loveit!PW is undercover again WTF 5 stars
11/09/06 Paul Bryant should be fired It's an over the top satire. PS,you rated starsky and hutch as a good movie and hated this? 4 stars
10/13/06 John Doe It's a rare flick that doesn't flinch from what it is. This is one. 5 stars
8/22/06 Shane Petri Completely Twisted Movie 5 stars
8/16/06 kemper boyd i liked it, whass this about paul walker's competent performance?? naah. entertaining still 4 stars
7/25/06 Indrid Cold I'm not sure why people think it's so over the top; it's a pretty standard crime thriller. 3 stars
7/12/06 Agent Sands The quintessential example of an action movie. 5 stars
6/25/06 malcolm pretty good but extremely f-ing contrived. camera tricks were distracting, not entertaining 3 stars
6/18/06 SeeDough Paul Bryant is a jaded tool. 5 stars
3/31/06 Priscilla Postlethwaite A plethora of false endings in search of a movie. 2 stars
3/08/06 ROY L. CAIN Except for the ending, the exact description of Hell ! 5 stars
2/28/06 Perry Mason Insane enough to for a rental. Paul Walker still can't act though. 4 stars
2/27/06 Jules This movie is all-out crazy. The cinematography was interesting with some really cool fx. 4 stars
2/26/06 Evil Wolfie It's slick. It's violent. And every scene is filled with some crazy ass filming technique. 5 stars
2/26/06 varyouga Holy Fucking Shit. The first movie with an acceptable level of violence. And a plot too! 5 stars
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  24-Feb-2006 (R)
  DVD: 06-Jun-2006

  06-Jan-2006 (18)

  N/A (MA)
  DVD: 07-Feb-2007

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