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6/10
Modern-day fairytale
Leofwine_draca20 April 2014
RUNNING SCARED is a pretty interesting movie. It has its share of flaws, but it does offer something new, and is a lot different to the usual cops 'n' bad guys thriller that I was expecting. In many ways it's like a modern-day fairy tale, with lots of references to the classic stories of old (such as Hansel and Gretel) and a couple of characters facing bizarre and violent adventures during a single night.

First off, the good stuff: the cast is pretty hot, particularly Paul Walker, who gives a MUCH better performance than he does in the films he's best known for, the Fast and the Furious series. Similarly, Vera Farmiga can be guaranteed to deliver some strong acting, and the cast of various goons and bad guys are well picked. In addition, the film has a real Tarantino vibe to it; the direction is edgy and the violence explicit. The script isn't bad. Some of the direction is a little over the top and distracting in places, but for the most part it works.

The flaws are that it meanders slightly in places, and it also goes on for a little bit too long. The whole paedophile sub-plot, while being suspenseful, seems to belong in a different film altogether and really extends the running time. The ending is also rather predictable. But for the most part, this edgy and intriguing, and offers something different to the usual clichés we've come to expect from this genre.
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4/10
showy ugliness
SnoopyStyle23 September 2015
Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) is a low level enforcer. Corrupt cops in ski masks try to rob them. They end up killing the cops in a shootout. Joey's son Nicky and next door neighbor kid Oleg Yugorsky (Cameron Bright) see him hiding a gun in the basement. Oleg steals that gun to shoot his abusive father. That gun turns out to be one used in the cop shootout. Joey must cover up the evidences and find Oleg with his gun.

This is desperately gritty. It is a showy form of ugliness. It wears thin after awhile. It gets tiresome. Also I'm not invested in Joey getting back his gun. It would be more interesting to follow Oleg instead. He has the more compelling story. Paul Walker should be a supporting actor. It's more fascinating to see him play a villain chasing down little Oleg.
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8/10
Pure Action
claudio_carvalho3 February 2007
The gangster Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) is in charge of getting rid of the guns that killed dirty cops in a transaction of drugs between Italian mobsters and Afro-Americans. However, Joey hides the guns in the basement of his house instead of throwing in the river, and his ten years old son Nicky (Alex Neuberger) and his best friend Oleg Yugorsky (Cameron Bright) witness Joey hiding the gun. When Oleg's abusive stepfather Anzor Yugorsky (Karel Roden) beats his mother Mila (Ivana Milicevic), Oleg steals the weapon from the basement and shoots Anzor, running away home with the gun. Along the night, Joey, the Russian and the Italian mobster and the dirty cops chase the little boy trying to retrieve the gun and disclose who ordered the boy to shoot his stepfather.

"Running Scared" is a great surprise and pure action, recalling the style of "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs". The camera work is stylish and amazing, and the gore story in spite of having many clichés is engaging with great lines. Paul Walker is excellent in this type of role, and I particularly loved the scene of Teresa Gazelle (Vera Farmiga) with the two pornographers, when she calls 911. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "No Rastro da Bala" ("In the Tail of the Bullet")
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Genre fans should enjoy but what should be tense and urgent is cluttered, rambling and undisciplined (MAJOR SPOILERS)
bob the moo1 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
When a drug deal turns into a shooting match, small timer Joey Gazelle is one of the few to get away alive. Panic sets in when it transpires that the jackers were dirty cops and Joey is given the task of dumping the gun that can be traced back to his mob employer. He keeps it as insurance instead but when the neighbour's kid using it on an abusive parent, Joey knows the cop will trace the bullet back to the earlier scene and join the dots. With the cops closing in on one side and the mob on the other, Joey takes his son Nicky out to try and find his friend and, more importantly, the gun.

I missed this in the cinema and it was only my girlfriend's purchase of a Sky Plus box (as if I wasn't already watching too many films) that made me watch this. I had not been particularly inspired by anything I had seen or heard to see it but figured for free it was worth a pass. In terms of energy it is hard to fault the film because it rarely has dull moments; so much is going on across the plot and even simple moments are edited to death or replayed from different perspectives to inject energy into them. To some this will be a wonderful thing as it does provide pretty much endless stimulation but for me personally I found it a little tiring and unsatisfying. I did think that perhaps writer/director Kramer must have had a terminal illness that meant this would be his only film he ever made because he did seem to throw every idea he had into it and, while this fills the plot it did sap me as a viewer and gave me too many things to be able find the focal point.

To me Joey is the focal point of the film and if it had been tighter on him and his predicament then it might have worked better than it did. However we have minor characters getting into as much bother as Joey – hell, for some reason we even have Joey's wife becoming a vigilante against two paedophiles; I have no idea why this part was included – it just was. While this fills the time, it also slows and distracts, making what could have been tense and urgent become so much more baggy and slack than it should be. The ending of the film is a fine example as to me it rivalled Return of the King in regards false endings – a violent shoot out, oh then we have that pimp that was hanging around, then we have a death scene, then we have a funeral etc etc. Again, Kramer seems afraid to end it and his two major revelations (Joey is a cop and he's not really dead) are just flat and uninspired. It is a shame because at its core he seems able to inject the energy and pace the film should have had, but with so many things going on it is impossible to sustain that with the audience.

Instead he then seems to go for violent and energy to cover him and there is no doubting that the film is violent. Both in terms of language and gore the film plays to the excess. This will work well with the target audience of Tarantino fans but I'm not sure it worked for me – where were the hearts of the characters and the plot? I did find the film quite unpleasant at times but forgave it this as part of the genre – the language is excessive though – not in a way I found offensive but just in a way that I found lazy in regards the script. The cast work reasonably well with it all things considered. Walker drives his scenes well and he really deserved a better film (the two "revelations" about him take away from his performance). Aside from him things are more so-so. Bright and Neuberger are so-so, Farmiga is sexy but given pointless actions. Roden is daft, Palminteri wasted with nothing to do while countless other "mob cliché" regulars call it in from afar.

Overall then an energetic and violent film that will please genre fans to some degree but really could have done with being tighter and shorter. I might talk about the need for characters but really the genre approach is fine, what hurts it is Kramer's lack of focus within his script. With too much going on and no strong focus, what should have been tense and urgent because rambling, cluttered, messy and undisciplined.
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7/10
In your face!
kosmasp24 April 2007
A movie with Paul Walker isn't exactly something I'm looking forward to when I decide what I'm going to see at the theatre. So it was good that this was played in a sneak. Maybe I wouldn't have bothered to watch it otherwise. And I would've missed a good picture that way, which would have been a shame!

This a really dirty little action movie, that has a sub-plot that should leave you distressed (I'm not going to spoil that for you, but there are hints throughout the movie with that subject matter sticked upon them)!! Other than that, this thrill-ride will have you on the edge of your seat, as our main character has to overcome huge obstacles here ... but beware, this is not a family film! It get's brutal and it is explicit in it's showing of the violence that is happening! You've been warned!
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8/10
Down the Rabbit Hole with Wayne Kramer
wes-connors7 March 2009
"Struggling mob hand Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) finds his life turned inside-out when a 'hot' weapon he's in charge of concealing goes missing. With two mafia families and a team of crooked cops watching his every move, Joey sets out on a chilling, bloody pursuit, maneuvering his way through a horrific web of creeps and criminals, praying he can retrieve the gun and make it home to his family - alive," according to the Warner Home Video synopsis.

Well, Mr. Walker turns out to not quite fit that description; and, you won't see much time spent on "praying" (perhaps, Warner Brothers meant "preying"?) - anyway, Wayne Kramer's "Running Scared" is a shocking, viscerally violent, and potentially offensive bloodbath. Two of the film's featured players are adolescents, Cameron Bright (as Oleg Yugorsky) and Alex Neuberger (as Nicky Gazelle). The youths do well in their roles, but I'm not sure they should see the movie - at least, not without an intense debriefing conversation.

Kramer, with photographer James Whitaker, and their crew make "Running Scared" a relentlessly violent, but beautifully filmed, "Grimm" fairy tale. The "pedophile" sequence, with Bruce Altman (as Dez) and Elizabeth Mitchell (as Edele), is astonishingly well shot. Here, with a bright set and creepy shadows, Kramer's suggestion of horror is chilling. This section of the film is most successful, with relatively little violence, and no sex.

For fans of less subtle bloodletting, Kramer ends with a some brutally violent hockey rink horror. In hindsight, there are some improvable plot points… Vera Farmiga (as Teresa) and Ivana Milicevic (as Mila) make their presence felt, in a largely male film. And, Karel Roden (as Anzor Yugorsky) is a John Wayne fan from Hell. The end credit characterizations, which hammer home the fairly tale quality hinted at throughout, are well-drawn, and seem a little wasted in proximity.

While exceedingly violent, "Running Scared" is a striking, stylish film.

******** Running Scared (2006) Wayne Kramer ~ Paul Walker, Cameron Bright, Vera Farmiga
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7/10
Playing two ends against the middle.
michaelRokeefe1 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Joey Gazelle(Paul Walker)is a low level mobster that is ordered to get rid of a gun used in killing dirty cops. Gazelle hides various weapons for safe keeping in his basement. The gun in question is lifted by his son's friend Oleg(Cameron Bright)to use to kill his abusive stepfather(Karl Roden). The homicide is not successful and young 9 yr old Oleg is on the run. The gun is taken and then traded before being recovered again. Two groups of 'good guys' are putting the heat on Gazelle to make sure the silver snub-nose does not land in the hands of the cops. Flying lead causes copious amounts of blood. The body count is enough to lose tabs on. This is a very manic thrill ride and it seems that the word used the most is f#*k.

A very apt cast that also features: Vera Farmiga, Johnny Messner, Chazz Palminteri, and Arthur Nascarella. I'm liking Walker more every time I see him. Kudo to writer and director Wayne Kramer.
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7/10
Hard to take at times, but undeniably compelling.
Hey_Sweden19 January 2013
Writer / director Wayne Kramer's "Running Scared" is incredibly intense, a feverishly paced thrill ride with a lot of unpleasant characters. Understandably, it's not going to be for everybody, especially if they don't want to see a child subjected to a lot of ugliness. It really is like some fairy tale gone out of control. Paul Walker plays Joey Gazelle, a low level mobster who's charged with the task of hiding a gun that was used to kill a crooked cop. Things start to unravel when one of Joey's neighbours, a kid named Oleg (Cameron Bright) finds the gun and uses it to shoot his abusive father Anzor (Karel Roden). Then the kid takes off on an odyssey through rough parts of town while Joey sets off on his own journey to find the kid. The movie is fairly surprising in terms of just how depraved it gets, and it offers up some revelations that the viewer might not expect. Oftentimes Kramer goes for so much style that it takes you out of the action, however; slowing things down, speeding them up, etc. It's as if he doesn't quite trust his own material. That said, one incredible sequence takes place on a hockey rink with an innovative lighting scheme, as Joey and his mob bosses angrily confront him. The creepiest interlude by far involves a pair of child predators. Yes, this movie does go to some pretty dark places. The action comes fast and furious, with things spiralling out of control in record time. Fortunately, though, Kramer does eventually calm down somewhat and with the help of a strong cast, creates some fine character moments. In one interesting touch, a hapless hooker (Idalis DeLeon) tries to look out for young Oleg after he gives her a respite from the brutality of her pimp (David Warshofsky). Also among the cast are the excellent Chazz Palminteri as a hard nosed cop, Vera Farmiga as Joey's wife Teresa, Johnny Messner as thug Tommy Perello, and Ivana Milicevic as Anzor's wife Mila. Walker is a fine picture of grim determination in the lead, a man who comes off as fairly sleazy but not without some honour and decency. Teresa also has an extremely effective moment when she is able to do something about the monsters into whose clutches Oleg has fallen. One thing is for sure, and that's for a film running around two hours, this remains entertaining to watch, never getting boring at any point. Fans of grim and gritty crime flicks may find it well worth a view. Seven out of 10.
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8/10
Hits hard and never lets up
lastliberal20 July 2007
I actually thought this was just some routine picture about a low level hood that lost a gun, but I was dead wrong. Sure, it starts that way, but this film is as good as Sin City, Pulp Fiction, and many others that stylize violence.

I have to note that performance of the kids in the film. Cameron Bright and Alex Neuberger in his first film, really held their own throughout the movie.

Paul Walker really impressed me and played a tough part that really kept me on the edge of my seat.

Vera Farmiga was equally impressive, especially when she was dealing with the scumbags in the middle of the film. Putting that scene in was a stroke of genius as it really set the tone for the ending, which was a bang, and then another bang, and then another bang. Every time I though we were ending, it just kept getting better.

I have to say that when I see written and directed by Wayne Kramer, I will be there to watch.

Nice eye candy, too.
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8/10
Over-the-top, high-octane and at-times undeniably brutally violent crime melodrama
george.schmidt27 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
RUNNING SCARED (2006) *** Paul Walker, Vera Farmiga, Cameron Bright, Chazz Palminteri, Johnny Messner, Alex Neuberger, Ivana Milicevic, David Warshofsky, Bruce Altman, Elizabeth Mitchell, Idalis DeLeon, Arthur J. Nascarella, Karel Roden. Over-the-top, high-octane and at-times undeniably brutally violent crime melodrama with Walker (in his best role to date) as a two- bit Mob go-to guy assigned tasks of getting rid of weapons finds himself up to his neck when a snub-nosed .38 involved in a killing enmeshed with a dirty cop (sneeringly nasty Palminteri) winds up in the hands of his young son's best friend (Bright, a sober-faced prodigy giving good Buster Keaton in poker-face visage) who uses it to shoot his Russian émigré father (Roden hamming it up), a scumbag crystal meth loser who beats him and his gorgeous mother (Milicevic). A Pandora's box of hell is released when Walker's Joey Gazelle frantically attempts to find the gun before he is implicated and offed by either the cops or his goon buddies. Written and directed by filmmaker Wayne Kramer with nods to Tarantino, Walter Hill, Sam Peckinpah and shades of Bruckheimer and Bay, the film zooms along with breakneck élan and amoral indifference. A crazy quilt of stock characters (i.e. hooker with a heart of gold) and interesting spins on others (the put-upon spouse Farmiga has her moment in the sun by encountering some truly vile evil with a crowd-pleasing sequence of unease not seen since The Gimp in "Pulp Fiction") rocks the audience to their core and although the climax is a Tony Scott wet-dream gone awry it is none-the-less a giddy popcorn trashy find and homage to grindhouse fare that those who know will truly appreciate its hedonism unleashed.
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7/10
junk food cinema
movieman_kev7 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Writer/Director Wayne Kramer, who made the fantastic "The Cooler", returns with a movie that, while being a different animal indeed, is almost as enjoyable albeit in a vastly different way. Paul Walker is Joey Gazalle a mob thug who has to make a mad dash all around the cities of Jersey with his kid Nicky in tow trying to find Nicky's friend, Olav, whom had stolen a gun from Joey. A gun that happens to be hot and one that killed a dirty cop, so the surviving cop as well as Olav's abusive father, and a Russian mob boss are keen on finding the gun as well. You know what the plot doesn't really matter and the films gets so off the wall that a simple synapses wouldn't do it justice anyway. Just know that the movie is all style over substance, but man what style. this is the best example of junk food cinema that I've seen in the past few years. Blood, gun-play, action, and all at a quick clip that the film never has time to catch it breath, much less to become dull. Even if the 'revelation' towards the end is a bit retarded (and everything after said revelation at the end of the roller rink scene progressively gets worse and worse leading to a simply horrid ending). But everything up to that point is great.

My Grade: B-

Eye Candy: Vera Farmiga shows a hint of bush, and numerous extras show various amounts of skin in a strip club scene

DVD Extras: Commentary by director Wayne Kramer; an 18 minute 'Making of'; storyboard sequences; Theatrical trailer; and trailers for the new "Blade" TV show, "Firewall"; "Cyber Wars', "Puerto Vallarta Squeeze", "Final Destination 3", "the Year of the Yao", & "A History of Violence" (inside the DVD case you can also find a mini-comic)

DVD-ROM content: Script-to-Screen
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8/10
A Suspense Thriller That Keeps Us Running - for the Secrets
gradyharp13 June 2006
On the surface RUNNING SCARED is just another action flick with lots of expletives, violence, bloodshed, trauma, and car chases. But attempt to put the movie on 'slow forward' and this hundred miles an hour paced film has a fine sense of pacing and excellent experimental photography, AND a cast that is up to it. Writer/Director knows this genre well and offers up a polished little frightening film.

Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker, finally given a role in which he proves he indeed can act and carry a film!)lives with his wife (Vera Farmiga) and son (Alex Neuberger) and is an apparent mob flunky who hides weapons in his basement to protect the mob. But when one certain pistol, used in severely wounding a cop, is recovered by the next door neighbor's kid Oleg (Cameron Bright) and is used against his abusive Russian father Anzor (Karel Roden, a terrific character actor as well as fine eye candy), the chase begins: Joey must recover the gun at all costs and it is this wild crash of violent events involving mobs, bad cops (Chaz Palminteri), hookers and child molesters that frames the course of the film. And to top it off there is a fine surprise ending.

Paul Walker is excellent and it is good to see a film that is a worthy challenge for his talent as an actor. The entire cast of supporting actors, while they do little but be violent, is fine and the cinematography by Jim Whitaker is creative (at times a bit too creative bordering on kitsch!) and musical score my Mark Isham complete the compelling atmosphere of this surprisingly exciting film. Grady Harp
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7/10
Easily one of the best thrillers of the decade!
The_Void21 September 2006
I've got to admit that I didn't have very high hopes going into this film, but to my surprise; Running Scared turned out to be one of the most inventive and most entertaining modern thrillers that I've seen in YEARS. While the plot is highly unlikely and relies on coincidences at just about every turn, it's great fun to watch simply because you never know what's coming next, and writer-director Wayne Kramer has an obvious talent both for imagination and creating tension and suspense. Every situation in the film is extremely well handled, and it's easy to fully get behind all the right characters at every turn. Running Scared gets off to a rather generic start as we witness a bunch of thugs murder some fellow gangsters, one of which turns out to be a cop. They give the gun used for the murder to Joey Gazelle and instruct him to get rid of it. However, he doesn't count on the next door neighbour's kid taking the gun and using it to shoot his abusive step father. Now our hero has a problem, as the cops are on to the fact that the gun used by the kid is the same one that the gangsters used to murder the cop; and he's got to find the gun before his friends find him!

One of the main reasons why I wasn't expecting much from this film was the fact that it stars Paul Walker. Not that I have anything against the guy, but the last film I saw from him was the rubbish thriller 'The Fast and the Furious'. However, Walker is a definite asset to the film and he both looks and acts the part that he's playing. Walker is joined by talented child actor Cameron Bright, who previously put in a good performance alongside Nicole Kidman in the odd film 'Birth', and does well here. Fans of blood and guts will be glad to know that director Wayne Kramer doesn't cop out on that front, and succeeds in showing it as often as possible. Some of the scenes that see people being shot are extremely gritty and visceral, well over and above what I've come to expect from modern thrillers. The way that the plot moves is superb, as the director manages to tie in a number of different characters, all of which move the plot on in their own way. The fact that a lot of the film is unlikely isn't a problem either, as you can't expect too much realism from a film like this, and Kramer capitalises on that fact throughout. He even manages to throw in a surprising twist towards the end! Overall, while this film may not break too many traditions, the fact that it fully succeeds in being entertaining and rather nasty throughout easily compensates for this. HIGHLY recommended!
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8/10
Highly recommended for fans of depravity and outlandish cinema
zetes10 July 2006
I think I'd probably categorize this as a guilty pleasure. It has an amazing amount of flaws and general silliness. It's incredibly violent, nasty and dark. The plot is way too complicated and there's a last-minute twist (more like cop-out) that is incredibly stupid. But, hell, it's a lot of fun. Paul Walker plays a gangster given a gun to hide after a shootout. His son's best friend steals the gun in order to shoot his abusive father. The kid runs away and Walker desperately searches for him and the weapon. The adventures that the characters go through turn out almost like a demented version of Alice in Wonderland. While most of the film is constantly dark (the bulk of the film takes place during a single night), the creepiest part of the film enters a brightly colored world, a den of child pornography. The film is also notable for having one of the most memorable pimps in cinema history (David Warshofsky). Paul Walker, best known for being that boring guy who tries to take down Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious, just swears his way through this movie. The real acting honors belong to the two kids. Cameron Bright has been good in several movies now, most notably in the film Birth. Alex Neuberger is a newcomer, but he has great potential.
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6/10
Not bad, but not the Soprano's either
mm-3916 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Not bad, but not the Soprano's either. The script is over the top, with a few good scenes, which is well directed and acted. Paul Walker is a excellent actor! I have never seen Paul's acting hurt a film which is an accomplishment for working in countless weak movies. If Paul had Keanu Reves agent and films I believe Paul would be a mega star. Running Scared has great supporting actors, the actor who plays the mobsters son is great, the Russian mob and children actors save a weak film. The hockey climax is original and powerful. Soon to be in the 99 cent rental as a second feature on rental night. 6 out of 10. I love the Mustang at the beginning, and ending; Powerful film work, visually, and emotionally.
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9/10
Insanely violent action thriller.
HumanoidOfFlesh19 March 2007
"Running Scared" is an excellent and truly violent action thriller that left me stunned.I'm a big fan of gritty and exploitative Italian and American cop thrillers from 70's and early 80's,so I enjoyed this intense spectacle.It deals with a small-time criminal who is assigned the task of dumping firearms used by his hoodlum pals in various crimes.He fails to dump a revolver used in the murder of a cop.A kid steals it from his basement cache and uses it to shoot his abusive father...and the chase is on.The characters are degenerate and one-dimensional,but who cares.Still the most memorable villains are a pair of paedophile child killers and they are truly evil.Actually the scenes in their house are suitably disturbing.The violence is bloody and brutal,the action is fast-paced and the climax is literally splashed with grue.9 out of 10.
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8/10
Outstanding film
whpratt116 December 2007
This picture will capture your attention from the very beginning to the end and it never stops getting more and more involved with plenty of gore and the language is unbelievable. The story starts off with Joey Gazelle,(Paul Walker)who is involved in a money and dope operation and things go bad and a dirty cop gets shot. Joey is told by his gang members to get ride of the gun and make sure the cops do not find it. Joey goes in his basement at home and hides the gun but his son and another young boy hide and watch where his father put the guns. One of these boys takes the gun and tries to stop his father from beating up on his mother. Joey goes nuts when he finds out and knows he is in big trouble with his gang members if the police get this gun and the bullets. This particular gun causes more trouble in the lives of so many people and even causes people to kill each other in an ice hockey stadium. One scene on the ice is a hockey player shooting a puck into the mouth and face of his victim. There is some very steamy love making scenes and plenty of people being killed all the time.
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8/10
Scared the heck out of me
Smells_Like_Cheese29 June 2006
Running Scared is a terrifying and dark action movie about a man, Joey, who is being slowly betrayed by the mob he works for. When they tell him to hide a gun that could put them away for years, he does so, but he doesn't realize that his son and his friend see where he keeps the gun, Oleg, his son's friend, takes the gun and shoots his abusive step father. Obviously, police and the FBI are involved and if the figure out the gun is Joey's. One problem, Oleg has run away from home facing some pretty horrific things out in the city. Joey, his wife, and his son together try to find Oleg and instead find out some more interesting information instead.

Running Scared was an extremely scary movie in my opinion and one of the most intense I've seen in my life. I would recommend if you like those on your seat edgy thrillers.

8/10
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5/10
action packed,yet lacking
disdressed125 October 2006
running scared is non-stop action from the get go.it is entertaining,but seemed to be missing something, though i can't say what.this movie did not really distinguish itself from others of the genre.there is nothing new here,and maybe that's what's missing.the movie could have benefited if there had been a twist of some sort.as it is this is standard action movie.i did like the touches of humour sprinkled throughout,which was good because the movie is so dark in tone.i realize the filmmakers were probably going for realism,but it wasn't necessary to have a much swearing as they did, particularly the f-bomb.the acting was good,though not brilliant by any stretch.i did think that vera farmiga was excellent in the small role that she had.the humorous parts in the movie reminded me of(oddly enough)of "analyze this" ,a comedy which ironically i did not like.though i liked running scared, it could have been a better movie,certainly without so much foul language.if you are easily offended by strong language, you might want to stay away from this movie.it is also quite violent, though no more than any other movie of its type.not for everybody
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9/10
my notes
FeastMode1 July 2019
I love everything about this movie. the directing, the style, the music, the tone, the creepiness, the suspense, the story. paul walker did an awesome job in the lead role. so many interesting supporting characters with their own unique backstory. so many different things happening at the same time (about 4 viewings)
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7/10
Unlike anything you've seen before
STAR RATING: ***** The Works **** Just Misses the Mark *** That Little Bit In Between ** Lagging Behind * The Pits

In recent times, cinema has tried to accommodate a more family friendly audience. Films that may have had higher ratings in years gone past, have been toned down so the large cinema going population that is the under 18s can be drawn in to spend cash and help make the studios extra money. That all gets blown right back in the face with Running Scared, truly one of the most nasty, gory, unsympathetic and, at times, shocking films of recent years. Taking all the worst elements of last year's Sin City, Mr and Mrs Smith and Four Brothers, it makes the sadistic, violence-happy tone that ran through those films look like nothing at all.

Our story begins with Joey (Paul Walker) and two of his friends getting ambushed by a gang of men in balaclavas with double barrel shotguns in a room where they appear to be up to no good. But the tables are turned on these men through fate of chance and they end up finding themselves blasted away by Joey and his buddies. Unfortunately for them, they turn out to be crooked cops and, so the bullets aren't traced back to them, the guns must be disposed of short and swift. That's what Joey's really good at, his job, in fact, so all seems nice and dandy. Unfortunately, Joey's son has a best mate in the shape of a kid who lives next door who suffers, along with his mother, at the hands of her psychotic Russian husband who's, shall we say, a mentally unhealthy member of the John Wayne fan club. When the two boys inadvertently stumble on Joey's gun stash, the lad seizes his opportunity to sort him out- and shoots him in the side of his chest (the kid's a crap shot!) With the traceable bullet now loose, it sets Joey on a whirlwind and dangerous ride which he'll struggle to get out of alive.

I don't think I've ever seen a film like Running Scared before in my life. As the film goes on, the unbelievable amount of violence has gotten so extreme you have to laugh or cry about it, a la the Kill Bill movies (unlike those films, though, not intentionally.) To be fair, it is an intelligent film. Two of the main characters are kids, and there seems to be some hinting at America's love of all things gun related, the trigger happy mentality to taking out the 'trash' (paedophiles, pimps, crooked cops etc.) and how all this wantern veangefulness and joy of shooting is warping the minds of the younger generation who see it all around them, like the recent A History of Violence. But towards the end of the movie, the outrageousness of all the violence has gotten so distracting you're not concentrating on the plot any more, even though to be fair it does feel like the movie's dragging on a bit (I knew before I first checked it was well over an hour and thirty-eight minutes.)

In the lead role, Walker has improved from his earlier, wooden outings and the supporting cast are a generally recognizable bunch of faces from these types of movies (i.e. Chazz Palmenteri) who do their thing well enough.

Revelling in sudden, loud bangs, flashy editing, gratuitous, blood-thirsty violence and foul language like a pig in a fu*king trough, Running Scared is a non-stop bombardment of a film, a searing testament to a day gone by when real, hardcore violence was the mainstray of Hollywood cinema. ***
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9/10
violent, powerful, interesting gang movie
dromasca9 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Wayne Kramer's previous film 'The Cooler' was one of the best in the Las Vegas movies genre. Here Kramer takes another genre from the 70-80s era - the suburban (typically New Jersey) gangs movie and the result is another surprising gem. Actually we should not be surprised any longer, Kramer is by now a well establish name, we should wait with tremor each of his future movies and comparing him with Terentino is no longer flattery.

The story line involves a New Jersey drug dealer getting in trouble after the gun used to kill unintentionally a undercover cop is stolen from his basement by the kid of the neighbors. A long night run starts, the gun will change many hands, and a full world of menacing figures, criminals at different degrees of evil and perversion will dance around at a devilish pace. Imagine Terentino put on some steroids if possible. Violence abounds, but there is also humanity in this film, first with the kids (especially Cameron Bright) then with the main character himself (Paul Walker) and his wife (Vera Fermiga). The evil gallery does not miss its well drawn characters, allowing superb roles for actors like Chuck Palminteri as a corrupt cop. An excellent portrait of the Russian immigrant family living a nightmarish American dream, funny and pathetic at once is brought to screen by Ivana Milicevici and Karel Roden. Not even a rather conventional end can really spoil the pleasure of seeing this violent, funny, interesting, and powerful movie.
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'If they find the gun or they find the kid and he talks,...'.
Chrysanthepop3 April 2011
Wayne Kramer's 'Running Scared' is full of adrenaline, suspense, action and style. Slickly edited and brilliantly executed, the movie moves at a steady pace. There's plenty of action and bloody violence, lots of guns, fire and blood but at the same time the story is engaging and the key characters keep the viewer involved. It has a very comic book feel to it and is executed that way. The overall lighting, colour filtering and cinematography is very good. I just found the blue lighting in the final ice hockey field sequence a little irritating. The soundtrack adds to the energy.

The twists and turns are appropriately fitting (with the exception of one). 'Running Scared' also touches on some disturbing themes such as child abuse, pornography and prostitution. The comic elements also fit appropriately and some of the dialogues provide great comic relief.

Paul Walker does a fine job as Joey Gazelle, frantic to rescue himself, his family and the neighbour's kids. Only his shouting was a bit overdone in some scenes. Vera Farmiga is excellent. I liked that she wasn't cast in a typical wife role. Likewise Walker's Joey is no typical hero who likes to cuss. The character is very humane and compassionate. Cameron Bright springs a surprise with a subtle performance of a tortured boy who is on the run, fending for himself.

The final twist in the end was a tad too Hollywood. The awesome animation during the closing credit summarize the film quite well. Overall, 'Running Scared' is an engaging thrill ride from start to end.
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9/10
Just Like a Taratino Film!
g-bodyl18 February 2014
Who would have thought that I would ever compare Running Scared to a Quentin Taratino film. Creative dialogue aside, this film displays the style and brutal action that made Taratino famous. Some will say that this makes the Kill Bill films look like weaklings next to this film. In other words, this film earns it's R-rating and there is enough excessive violence and swearing here to keep hardcore action/thriller fans happy.

Wayne Kramer's film is about a mob hand named Tommy who is asked to dispose of a gun. But, the kid of his neighbor Oleg happens to find the gun to shoot his abusive father and that set off a chain of events involving both police and the mafia keeping an eye on Tommy and his family.

I wish the late Paul Walker starred in more films like this because he was awfully good and he gleefully went over-the-top. I love him in many of his other films, but I would have love to see him go hardcore one more time. Vera Farmiga does a good job here and she has a few key and one very powerful scene as well.

Overall, this film is a gritty and intense actioner that will satisfy many action junkies. This film seemed to have gathered an intense cult following after the initial release resulted in poor reviews and terrible box office. This is definitely not one of Walker's mainstream roles and this could be his very best. I rate this film 9/10.
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7/10
A highly enjoyable, though very mixed-up, action film.
CuriosityKilledShawn8 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'll admit I knew absolutely nothing of this film until I walked into the cinema. I saw no ads on TV or blurbs on the internet. And as far as I knew it was a remake of the movie with Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines. Well, it's not! It's actually a rather bizarre actioner. I'll get to that in a minute.

First of all, if you are kind of annoyed at the lack of good, old-fashioned R-rated action movies these days then this film will definitely set the balance straight. There are many, many, MANY gory, and even sometimes shocking, deaths in this film that make A History of Violence look like an episode of Sesame Street.

It plays like one of Robert Altman's multi-story character dramas. At the very beginning we are treated to a bloody gunfight in a motel room after a drug deal goes sour. Head thug Tommy 'Tombs' Perello (Johnny Messner) instructs henchman Joey (Paul Walker) to dispose of his gun. He was going to right after dinner but the battered kid next door nicks it to shoot his abusive father and legs it across Brooklyn. Joey must then find him and make up a story to prevent a zillion plot threads (involving crooked cops, rival Mafia families, evil pimps, child rapists/killers) from snapping.

The gun itself is a curious MacGuffin. It passes through the hands of many people who's lives all connect. There doesn't seem to be any main story as the film spends equal amounts of time developing every one and although it seems interesting it also feels like loads of different films crammed together. It's constantly meandering and going in another direction and revealing twist after twist. Yes, it keeps the film interesting but by the time the main twist comes at the end you're too exhilarated too care. Running Scared is probably one of those films that improves upon repeat viewings.

Besides the schizophrenic story, what really brings the film down to a slightly above-average experience is the fact that director Wayne Kramer uses every editing technique he can think of despite whether they are appropriate or not. They may be technically impressive but they lack class and pull the film into a kind of Michael Bay-Area, where it doesn't belong.

I was also kind of weary of the fact that it headlines Paul Walker. I've never liked any of the teen-oriented movies he's been mugging in but I have to say that this is definitely his most demanding role yet and he tries really, really hard to convince. But I'm still undecided about him. If he can pull off this kind of this kind of role again and ditch the pretty-boy image I'll forgive him for previous crimes.

But the highlight of the movie is Cameron Bright who plays Oleg, the abused kid. He's a way better child-actor than Dakota Fanning and can express loads of different emotions even with a blank face. The amount of nasty stuff his character goes through is probably unfamiliar and difficult for a child-actor to understand but he handles it extremely well and his scenes with Paul Walker are faultless.

Don't put the lack of publicity for this film put you off. It's not perfect but it's far from being a failure. Like I said, it'll probably be better on a second viewing but the first one will still be a thrilling experience.
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