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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 William Goss

"Shoot To Overkill"
4 stars

As the end credits of 'Running Scared' suggest, the story almost plays out like a twisted fairy tale, as Paul Walker looks for a young boy lost in an underworld of pimps, pedophiles, corrupt cops, meth dealers, and the Russian mob. Such hellbent excess eventually works in the film’s favor, but on a superficial level, 'Running Scared' adds up to quite an interesting mess. To paraphrase one character, it’s shady and sleazy, but it’s not entirely evil.

Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) is an obedient mob lackey instructed to dispose of a snub-nose revolver that took out a handful of dirty cops. However, after stashing it at home, the gun is recovered by young Oleg (Cameron Bright), who uses it on his meth-making, abusive stepfather next door. Several pressing forces wish to have the matter resolved within eighteen hours, leaving Joey responsible for finding the kid – and the gun – before time runs out.

The film could easily be dismissed as yet another Tarantino rip-off. Why? Just because there’s gratuitous violence, rampant vulgarity, and a hearty helping of nudity, all set in a world of crime. It may be a broad stroke, but perhaps that is exactly what writer/director Wayne Kramer (The Cooler) is getting at all along. He helms the picture with a hyperstylized look, doling out plenty of laughably bad dialogue sprinkled with touches of Tourette’s. The product is so frantic and overdone, one can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, Kramer has something else up his sleeve. As it turns out, he has everything up there, kitchen sink included. Kramer seems to take pleasure in making the town of Grimley, NJ as seedy as possible. Every kind of criminal resides there, and Oleg meets each and every one of them, courtesy of the gun, which serves as the movie’s MacGuffin more than anything else.

The film’s narrative structure works to its benefit, with the first hour consisting of little more than set-up and Gazelle dashing around in an effort to contain the situation. Frenzied as it may be, nothing much is actually taking place, and one is left hoping for a little less conversation, a little more action please. Just when the audience is about to fear that Scared might be all flash and no bang, Kramer goes for broke, throwing all the elements together in a madcap dash towards the finish, and the viewer cannot help but surrender to the overwhelming pandemonium that results. As it turns out, the single best-executed sequence is ultimately the most disposable. Eventually, Oleg runs into the most terrifyingly nice characters this side of Todd Solondz’ Palindromes, a family of four whose parents are especially eager to look after the young boy back at their place. Although quite compelling, that portion adds nothing to the plot, but at that point, who could care either way?

Walker contributes the best performance of his career (since Eight Below, at the very least), carrying the chaos with a relentless effort to make the most of the material, no matter how outlandish. Bright does an adequate job as the innocent Oleg, and Vera Farmiga leaves a strong impression as Mrs. Gazelle. As a cop particularly concerned about the outcome of the night’s events, Chazz Palminteri does his regular villainous song-and-dance, but such work suits the film quite well in the end.

The more thought one gives it, the sooner one catches on that Kramer’s intent all along was to skewer the traditional action conventions by including every last one, even down to the ‘big twist,’ and showing them for just how ridiculous they really are. Such a perspective makes the work by the entire cast, Walker in particular, that much more admirable in their shameless dedication towards their roles. Then again, for a parody, another wink or nudge might not have hurt matters, but the idea is still there nonetheless. 'Running Scared' may not be a great movie, but don’t dare mistake it for a stupid one.

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originally posted: 02/24/06 17:21:52
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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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