Directed by Wayne Kramer.
Written by Wayne Kramer.
Starring Paul Walker, Vera Farmiga, Cameron Bright and Chazz
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 2/26/06
Pervasively profane and violent--this one
really gave "Casino" a run for its money in both
departments--"Running Scared" works as an adult thriller even though
its mob-and-dirty-cops script is riddled with mafioso clichés.
Paul Walker, who usually looks like he is
just the pretty boy that's along for the ride, is actually pretty
sharp here as Joey Gazelle, a mob henchman that is attached to Tommy
(Johnny Messner) when the film opens up during a drug deal between
the local XXXX, New Jersey mob and some unlucky Jamaican thugs.
The deal is interrupted by three robbers out to get their hands on
the drugs and the money for their own devices...but, things don't
work out that way, and a bunch of bodybags later, Joey realizes that
those robbers were a little more than that--they were dirty cops!
Tommy gives Joey the easy-looking task of getting rid of the
mobsters weapons, but in trying to stash them at his house, Joey
doesn't realize that the next door neighbor's kid (Cameron Bright)
has designs on killing his abusive father, so when that father winds
up with a bullet in his chest from one of the dirty weapons used in
the cop killing, Joey has to track down the kid and the gun before
all hell breaks loose with the law and his own mob brothers.
Like I said, at no point does the script
feel original, but over the course of the next two hours, "Running
Scared" is still very engaging, thanks to a few factors.
First, the language in this film can only be described as
"colorful." Written and directed by Wayne Kramer--the man that
introduced "muff confetti" to us in the Vegas thriller
Scared" has truly pervasive use of the f-bomb and throws us multiple
uses of the c-word for good measure; even the kids in this film are
constantly cursing. Over two hours, you almost don't even hear
it any more, much like it was by the second hour of "Casino", when
Joe Pesci's character was coming up with new ways to curse out
everyone in his path. That, combined with two long, violent
action sequences, pimps, some sexuality and kiddie porn (making sure
to leave no stone unturned), makes "Running Scared" just about the
most un-family-friendly film to come out in a while.
So, as sensationalized entertainment goes,
"Running Scared" is consistently watchable. That still doesn't
make the overall product great. While Walker's performance is
fun--he plays the low-level mob grunt role perfectly, along with
looking like he is finally energized to be in a film--some of the
other cast members are ridiculous, none more so than Chazz
Palminteri (the sucker cop from "The Usual Suspects"), who looks
like a ham trying to play a heavy-handed profane dirty cop; Bright
does have the look of a scared kid but supposedly playing a child of
Russian parents, he seems to have an accent in some scenes and no
accent in others...odd, since he's playing an American child
of Russian parents. The mob guys, led by Messner's
performance, are right out of the handbook, complete with enjoying
strip clubs, hating African-Americans, shrugging their shoulders
incessantly ("Hey, Vinny, I don't know where he is, okay?") and
wearing insane amounts of jewelry. Being that the film is set
in New Jersey, "Running Scared" almost gives one the impression that
it was shot on the backlots of "The Sopranos" with extras from that
The film also seems to be a bit too creative
with the random shooting styles employed here; someone from a Missy
Elliot video shoot clearly was involved in the editing process
because at times, "Running Scared" is totally on crack trying to
show us very simple things like Joey getting into his car or Joey
punching an unsuspecting thug. It all combines for an
over-the-top film experience, not unlike a Tony Scott film (I'm
thinking last year's
"Domino", as an example), with even less substance.
"Running Scared" is a fun ride, no doubt, but when you get up to
leave, you're not really sure how you should be feeling about all
this nonsense...but, maybe that was the point.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard