A Brutal Display of Disconnected Ideas
Starring: Paul Walker, Cameron Bright,
Vera Farmiga, Karel Roden,
Johnny Messner, Ivana
Milicevic, and Chazz
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 119 minutes
Distributor: New Line Cinema/Time Warner
Director: Wayne Kramer
Executive Producer: Andrew Pfeffer, Stewart Hall,
Andreas Grosch, Andreas
Schmid, and Matt Luber
Producer: Michael Pierce, Brett Ratner
and Sammy Lee
Writer: Wayne Kramer
Address Comments To:Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne
New Line Cinema
116 North Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (310) 854-5811
Fax: (310) 354-1824
RUNNING SCARED begins with a brutal gunfight when another gang steals money from a drug gang in New Jersey. The leader of the heist escapes, but the rest of his gang are killed. Much to Tommy, the drug gang leader, and his crew's, chagrin, they discover that the dead thieves all have police badges.
As usual, Tommy orders Joey, played by Paul Walker of EIGHT BELOW, to throw away the guns they used to kill the crooked cops. Little does he know, however, that Joey keeps all the gang's hot guns in a secret compartment in his basement. Joey's 10-year-old son, Nicky, and Oleg, Nicky's little Russian American friend, see Joey stash the new guns.
Later at dinner, Joey, Nicky and Joey's wife, Teresa, hear Oleg take potshots at his mean Russian stepfather. One of the shots barely misses Joey's head in the next house.
Joey rushes next door to find the stepfather wounded in the shoulder and Oleg gone. Of course, Oleg used one of the guns that Joey's gang used on the crooked cops. Taking his son Nicky along, Joey goes in search of Oleg to get back the gun before the police get it.
What ensues is a very violent, foul-mouthed search for Oleg and/or the gun. A series of twists and turns has Joey running all around town during the night. Complicating matters is the fact that little Oleg's stepfather is the disgraced son of the local Russian gang leader, who thinks Joey tried to kill his son so that Joey could take over the son's meth lab. Another complication occurs when Oleg, trying to escape his angry stepfather, runs into a married couple who have set up one of the rooms in their fancy apartment into a child pornography studio.
The violent twists and turns in this story are just too much. If that weren't enough of a problem, some final twists during the climax transform Joey into a good guy with a secret moral agenda. This plot twist comes way too late to generate much sympathy for Joey. Joey, however, seems to share the lead role in the movie with Oleg. In fact, during the end credit sequence, Oleg takes center stage when the filmmakers use fairy-tale drawings of Oleg being menaced by all the movie's evil characters in illustrations that seem like something out of OLIVER TWIST by Charles Dickens or LEMONY SNICKET'S AN UNFORTUNATE SERIES OF INCIDENTS. And, all this time I thought I was watching a gritty crime thriller!
RUNNING SCARED is also filled with more than the usual kind of graphic violence and very strong foul language. The "f" words come fast and furious in this crime thriller. Furthermore, the implied activities of the two child pornographers and pedophiles are over-the-top, as is an interrupted sex scene in the laundry room between Joey and his wife. The movie also contains images of full female nudity in a visit to a nude bar. Finally, because of the confused nature of the story, the movie's worldview is a very strong pagan one. Although Joey's secret motives turn out to be pure, the means he uses to carry these motives out, as well as his search for the gun, are pragmatic and morally relative, and often immoral or evil. Also, Joey's wife becomes a murderous vigilante at one point in the story.
Artistically, RUNNING SCARED is a brutal bunch of often disconnected ideas in search of a coherent plot. Morally and spiritually, it's a mishmash of half-baked personal motives, laced with lots of obscenity, vulgarity and ultra-violence. Someone in Hollywood should sit down with these types of crime fiction wannabes and pretenders and tell them that crime thrillers, hardboiled mysteries and film noir movies need to have a morally and/or spiritually uplifting premise, with, hopefully, positive role models as well, to be truly successful. Furthermore, piling on more graphic violence, more brutality, more quirky and "edgy" material, and more vulgar content will not save your movie from artistic oblivion, no matter how many secular critics you can get to wax eloquently and mindlessly about your material in their reviews.
RUNNING SCARED is a brutal bunch of disconnected ideas in search of a coherent plot. Morally and spiritually, it's a mishmash of half-baked personal motives, filled with abundant obscenity, vulgarity and ultra-violence. The movie also contains a very strong accumulation of sexual content. One scene set in a nude bar has extensive female nudity. RUNNING SCARED is an abhorrent mess, in more ways than one. The actors are not well served by the messy script, which contains some laughable dialogue and situations, not to mention all the "f" words.