Running Scared

Sometimes there is a difference between simply viewing a movie and seeing a movie and Running Scared is one of those films that if you really watch and look beneath the surface, you might find something worth talking about.

Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) finds himself unscathed after a gunfight. His boss, Tommy “Tombs” Perello, hands him the guns used in the crime and tells him to take care of it. The guns aren’t just guns used in a gunfight though, they are guns used in a gunfight in which several police officers were killed. Joey heads home to his wife (Vera Farmiga) and son Nicky, and stashes the guns quickly in the basement. Nicky’s best friend and neighbor Oleg (Cameron Bright) pockets one of the guns and takes it home for protection from his abusive father. Shots are fired and at that moment, no one’s life would be the same.

Joey is in a race against time to find Oleg and the hot gun before Tommy or the police do. Joey realizes that he is a dead man if Tommy finds out that the gun is on the streets, and he will go to prison if the gun used in the shootout is implicated to him. Either way, Joey is headed for trouble if he isn’t the first person to find Oleg and the gun.

Judging by the trailer for this film, I wasn’t expecting anything more than your same old film noir done badly or another cheesy Paul Walker film. What I found though, was a modern classic that will likely develop a cult following similar to another film that kept ringing in my ears as I watched. Try and think back to the first time you saw Reservoir Dogs, and how you felt about the violence. Some people said it was over the top, some said it was gratuitous and some said it was sick. Anyone who can appreciate a film for what it really is though, knows that Reservoir Dogs was a masterpiece and Running Scared is this decade’s Reservoir Dogs.

The film is so fast and gritty that you barely have time to appreciate some of the small subtleties within the plot. I really found myself appreciating this film so much more after I listened to the commentary by Writer/Director Wayne Kramer. Kramer stated that his original intent with the script was to write a 70’s style noir with some roller coaster action. When he found himself writing about Oleg’s journey through the night though, the story almost became a demented fairytale. Boy runs away from his evil family to find a better place and encounters friends, enemies and traps along the way. Oleg finds himself cornered by an abusive pimp (the mad hatter), rescued by a kind prostitute (fairy godmother) and lured in by a man and woman (the old woman from Hansel and Gretel) who seem to be the perfect family that he has been looking for. The film has a subplot that if you really watch for it, is fascinating. The film became a dark urban fairytale that takes you deep into the night for one hell of a ride. What would a movie be nowadays without a plot twist. The twist at the end of this film is both unexpected and redeeming to the script. I can’t describe enough how much I really enjoyed this movie.

Stop, Yes I am talking about a film starring Paul Walker but this is not the pretty boy or the pretty role you are used to. His intensity through the film is unflinching and this may easily be the role that will launch a much more diverse Paul Walker. Cameron Bright is just one of those child actors that comes around every so often and plays a role to remember. Bright’s Oleg never strayed from his character throughout the traumatic night depicted in the film. The acting was a bit unpolished at times though when Walker’s New Jersey accent fades into his trademark West Coast dialect, but it didn’t take much away from the film.

With great cinematography and some awesome visuals, Running Scared is one of the better DVD’s I have seen this year. Boasting a 6.1 DTS-ES track, this film is an extra powerhouse for your home theater. I already mentioned the supplements to the film that are a must watch.

While Running Scared is a film that features chief characters as pimps, drug dealers, mob bosses, murderers, pedophiles, dirty cops and prostitutes, I really feel that if this film is watched and watched again it will become a cult phenomena that will be remembered far longer than just new release Tuesday.

The Upside:
Laced with an aresenal of gritty action and an awesome urban fairytale storyline, Running Scared is the suprise of the year for me
The Downside:
Sometimes a bit too much going on at once
On the Side:
Most of the bloody gunshot wounds were CGI. The only real squibs used were in the Black Light Hockey Rink Shootout

Breaking Down the DVD:
The Film: B+
The Delivery: A
The Extras: A
Final Grade: A-

DVD Stats:
Release Date: June 6, 2006
Starring: Paul Walker, Cameron Bright, Vera Farmiga, Karel Roden, Johnny Messner
Directed by: Wayne Kramer
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Sound Mix: English (DTS 6.1 ES), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
MPAA: Rated for pervasive strong brutal violence and language, sexuality and drug content.
Country: USA
Run Time: 122 min.
Studio: New Line Home Video
Watch the Trailer Here