Action Movie Fanatix Review: Running Scared

Starring: Paul Walker, Cameron Bright, Vera Farmiga, Chazz Palminteri, Elizabeth Mitchell

Director: Wayne Kramer

2006  |  122 Minutes  |  Rated R

 Say hello to my little friend!” – Pimp Lester
That’s real fuckin’ original. What are you, a fuckin’ cartoon?” – Joey Gazelle

Running Scared is to action movies as Howard Stern is to talk radio.  The movie seems to go for shock value over things like story, realistic characters, coherent dialogue and most of all enjoyable action.

Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) is put in charge of getting rid of a gun that was used to kill dirty cops in a drug deal gone bad.  Instead of taking care of the gun right away he goes home to his wife, Teresa (Vera Farmiga), and son ,Nicky (Alex Neuberger), for dinner.  His son’s friend, Oleg, takes the gun, kills his abusive Russian mafia father and runs.  Gazelle gives chase to find Oleg and more importantly the gun.  Along the way Oleg & Joey encounter the Italian mob, the Russian mob, a pimp and his hoes, hockey players and a kidnapping, pedophiliac, murdering couple.  All in a nights work for Joey Gazelle.

The movie plays out like a meth fueled, ADHD dream.  Wayne Kramer has created a movie where you have no one to cheer for.  There are no good guys.  Joey Gazelle (dumbest name ever) is supposed to be the films protagonist but he is just less hateable than the real bad guys.  A perfect ending to this movie would have been a one of the 80s heroes we all love (pick your favorite Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Norris or Lundgren role) dropping into this city and mowing down every single character in it.

All of the action is so over the top that it is unenjoyable.  It doesn’t help that you never care which of the scum of the earth characters in each fight wins.  The unrealistic use CG blood immediately takes you out of every action scene.  The scenes of action also feature an interesting visual CG styling that, while cool looking, doesn’t feel right for a movie like this other than the fact that it adds to the overall feeling of confusion and chaos.  That feeling of chaos is the only success of the movie, the viewer is pulled into the chaos of the night that Joey Gazelle is having.  I just don’t know that the viewer should leave a movie feeling confused and disgusted.

I could never get into Running Scared.  The really weird thing for me is that it was originally recommended to me by a really good friend and has tons of positive reviews online.  Running Scared suffers from poor storytelling and direction from the start and it was never able connect with me.