Running Scared

Where does slinkily sleazy end and inadvertently off-putting begin? It’s a question hanging over Wayne Kramer’s follow-up to ‘The Cooler’, a relentlessly excessive gangland thriller clearly channelling the stone-cold amorality of early-’70s crime flicks (‘Prime Cut’, say, or ‘Across 110th St’), but the writer-director’s penchant for extremes ultimately proves the film’s undoing. It starts with the bloodbath of a bungled drugs rendezvous, leaving mob underling Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker, trying hard) to dump a pistol which offed a dodgy cop. Which, of course, he doesn’t do, since he’s stashing weapons in his New Jersey garage as an insurance policy for his young family. Big mistake. Oleg (Cameron Bright), son of the abusive Russian immigrant next door, has had enough of his addled ex-Mafioso dad, shoots him with the very same piece, and disappears into the night.

The idea, presumably, is how we create our own hell through misguided good intentions or imprinting violent solutions on the impressionable young. Sadly, the dizzying plot soon loses track of such whys and wherefores in favour of the short-term buzz of another twist, while it’s hard to square underlying compassion with the callous brutality on show – by the time someone’s had their ear chewed off, we hardly bat an eyelid.

Most troubling, though, is the degree of gun-toting action that Oleg is exposed to and participates in, not to mention a cameo appearance by two sadistic child killers. With audiences jaded by the usual sex and splatter, do the filmmakers have no qualms about juicing up proceedings with edgy but troubling material which clearly needs more conscientious handling? Apparently not.

Release details

Rated: 18
Release date: Friday January 6 2006
Duration: 121 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Wayne Kramer
Screenwriter: Wayne Kramer
Cast: Paul Walker
Cameron Bright
Vera Farmiga
Chazz Palminteri
Johnny Messner
Michael Cudlitz
Alex Neuberger
Ivana Milicevic
John Noble
David Warshofsky

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Ruby

Beside the overly-dramatic ending... This movie was awesome! it kept me and everyone i've shown it to (at the very least 10 people) in suspense, up til the very end. Even most most cynical friend had a hard time tearing it apart.

Ruby

Beside the overly-dramatic ending... This movie was awesome! it kept me and everyone i've shown it to (at the very least 10 people) in suspense, up til the very end. Even most most cynical friend had a hard time tearing it apart.

yduric

The fact that at the end of this exraordinarily bad flick, Mr Kramer would like to dedicate it to Sam Peckinpah, Brian de Palma and Walter Hill feels like an insult to these 3 directors and is the final demonstration of its stupidity. The violence, here, is definitely not an attempt to describe any gangster -milieu, it is purely exploitative to such a degree that, as the film progresses, you simply stop caring about any of the characters- there is, anyway, no character development at all- and think (or even wish) they could as well all die in a final gigantic bloodbath. For what affects the wannabe 'stylisitc, Tarantino-like' effects, they are totally far-fetched, unrealistic and repetitive. Another point ruining this disaster of a film is that it takes itself seriously. And of course, there are these AWFULLY BORING dialogues, with the occurence of the word 'fuck' either in its verbal or in its adjectival form in about 90% of the sentences uttered. For what affects the rest of those dialogues, they switch to truly laughable, with, for instance, Joey Gazelle's wife telling him 'I know you're not an evil man, I know I didn't marry an evil person', or later on, speaking of the paedophiles: 'You know, I saw the evil incarnate'. What a flattering comparison from part of his wife.!!! To sum up, and Mr Kramer should not be offended to hear that, since I am borrowing straight from the dialogues of his flick, this is a totally fucked-up film.