1 item from 2006
Related to the 1986 Billy Crystal-Gregory Hines buddy cop movie in name only, "Running Scared" marks "The Cooler" director Wayne Kramer's brazen march into Tarantino territory, but the concussive, hyper-violent results would have benefited from a lot less pulp and better fiction.
To be more accurate, there also are hints of Doug Liman and Tony Scott to be found in this hopped-up, bullet-riddled crime thriller, but while certain sequences pack an admitted visceral kick, the prevailing effect is one of utter overkill.
Even though Paul Walker, currently occupying the boxoffice top spot with "Eight Below", commands a loyal fan base and there isn't much in the way of fresh competition arriving this weekend, this New Line release probably won't scare up imposing overall numbers, but it likely will do better in certain overseas markets.
Set in a gritty version of New Jersey (industriously played by Prague), the story follows a very long night in the life of Joey Gazelle (Walker), a bottom-tier player in an Italian mob who finds himself in a whole mess of trouble when he fails to properly dispose of a gun used in the fatal shooting of a corrupt cop during a botched drug deal.
That easily identifiable snub-nosed firearm falls into the hands of his son Nicky's (Alex Neuberger) best friend Oleg (Cameron Bright) -- who uses it to fend off his abusive, John Wayne-obsessed, crystal meth-making Russian stepfather, and Joey finds himself feverishly embarking on a wild gun chase, before his angry mob and a dirty, hot-on-his-heels cop (Chazz Palminteri) get there first.
Along the way, Oleg leads Joey down a tricked-out rabbit hole and through a nocturnal freak show populated by sick yuppie kiddie pornographers, cartoonish pimps and strutting Latina hookers.
By the time this Malice in Wonderland reaches an inevitable crescendo, it's enough to make one want to hurry home and soak in a vat of Purell.
Kramer's well-received debut, "The Cooler", had pockets of explosive violence (not to mention that terrific Alec Baldwin-Bill Macy-Maria Bello ensemble), but they were all the more powerful because that film wasn't all adrenaline all the time.
Here, all the self-conscious fancy footwork and jarringly tinny dialogue constantly do battle with the performances. It's left up to the ever-resilient Vera Farmiga to blow the rest of them away as Walker's take-charge wife who single-handedly disposes of those nasty smut-mongers to crowd-pleasing approval.
Working with his "Cooler" cinematographer James Whitaker and editor Arthur Coburn, Kramer does pull off some swell set pieces, most notably a confession-by-repeated-slapshot-to-the-face sequence staged on a glow-in-the-dark hockey rink that likely would turn Quentin phosphorescent with envy.
New Line Cinema
Director-screenwriter: Wayne Kramer
Producers: Michael Pierce, Brett Ratner, Sammy Lee
Director of photography: James Whitaker
Production designer: Toby Corbett
Editor: Arthur Coburn
Costume designer: Kristin Burke
Music: Mark Isham
Joey Gazelle: Paul Walker
Oleg Yugorsky: Cameron Bright
Teresa Gazelle: Vera Famiga
Anzor ?DukeE Yugorsky: Karel Roden
Tommy "Tombs" Perello: Johnny Messner
Mila: Ivana Milcevic
Detective Rydell: Chazz Palminteri
Nicky Gazelle: Alex Neuberger
MPAA rating: R
Running time -- 119 minutes »
1 item from 2006
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