Running Scared

| February 26, 2006

Crystal Meth making John Wayne obsessed Russian guy? CHECK! Creepy whispering hobo who lives in tree houses? CHECK! Materialized evil in the form of wandering shadow? CHECK! Self-proclaimed Mack Daddy pimp who quotes Scarface? CHECK!
To think, these are just some of the many colorful characters writer/director Wayne Kramer has created for his film Running Scared. Many colorful characters don’t necessarily make a good film. Before seeing this film I tried to put my dislike for Paul Walker aside. I guess I am not a supporter of the popular “Take my shirt off” style of acting. Well in this film we not only get Paul Walker in a tank top, but also see his naked rear end. This of course while he wants to start an impromptu love making session on a washer with his wife, while his kid is in the other room. He plays Joey Gazelle, a mobster who takes care of getting rid of guns used by other members of the mob family. The centerpiece of the film is a snub-nosed .38 with a silver lining. It is used in the opening of the film to kill a cop. Let me say this, after the first 10 minutes or so I really thought that the film would be good. The opening shows us a violent gunfight, which is fairly realistic minus the 10 feet flying shotgun victim, and the mattress being used as armor. Unfortunately, it didn’t really get any better or easier to explain. For readers out there, the basic plotline to follow is: Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) is looking for his son’s friend Oleg, who stole his gun to shoot his abusive stepfather. If Joey doesn’t find the gun he is in big trouble with the mob he works for, but before he can find it he must go through a barrage of strange characters and situations.
After saying the basic plotline, let me just say a few things I disliked about the movie. There is so much going on that at times you just wonder what IS going on. Wayne Kramer seemed to have put any random idea he had while sitting on the pot into the script and then writing a line that would make it fit somehow. In one scene, Oleg is running away from his abusive father, and of all the cars to sneak into he sneaks into the back of a van owned by pedophiles. I will leave it at that. The look of the film is dark and dingy, matching the mood of the film. Many of the shots seem to use the “over zoom” method as I like to call it. This is when the camera operator thinks he has to zoom in and zoom out every second. This rapid style of filmmaking was used much better in Tony Scott’s Man on Fire. Kramer also uses a scene of following a bullets path in slow motion. This film was a very different film from Wayne Kramer’s last film The Cooler which I enjoyed a lot. He overuses, has over actors, and is just over the top to the point of being a cartoon. It looked more like Grand Theft Auto than anything. At least In that case Paul Walker could have just used his voice. There are so many funny things about this movie I would like to talk about, but there just isn’t enough time. I will say one last thing about the film, the ending. It seems like Wayne Kramer wrote 95% of the film, and then had to figure out an ending. So he thought of one line that Paul Walkers character could say, that would grant the outcome he wanted. You will see.
So, do I recommend this film? I wouldn’t go to the theater to see it. It is definitely an experience. If you like dark, violent, action infested films…I would say go see Man on Fire first. Also, just as a small note to the distributors and advertisers of the film…and for any film for that matter: Stop using quotes from Quentin Tarantino to advertise your film. That’s just my opinion.

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