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Running Scared

2006-09-01 18:50


A mafia underdog named Joey (Paul Walker) makes a living disposing of his bosses' incriminating evidence. When a drug deal is ambushed, resulting in the murders of corrupt cops, Joey hides the offending silver snub-nose pistol in his basement. The only problem is that his 10-year-old neighbour Oleg (Cameron Bright), gets his hands on the weapon and shoots his abusive Russian-mob father before running away, leaving Joey in very deep trouble. While on the trail of the missing pistol Joey encounters numerous problems on New Jersey's crime infested streets. He puts his life and his family in danger as he fights off a corrupt cop (Chazz Palminteri), Russian criminals and his own mob buddies.


Remember those action movies in the early nineties with lots of explosions and blood and screaming? Well, take that and mix in bad acting, senseless dialogue, and every cliche imaginable and you will have anyone literally running scared.

This movie must be given credit for the demanding task of including every superficial character ever used in overzealous action movies - there's the reluctant Latina bimbo with dreams of going to college, the narcissistic pimp in a white suit and pink Cadillac, the malicious Russian mobsters, and, of course, the sleek-haired Italian Mafioso. Then there's Joey, good guy in an unfortunate situation who somehow manages to infuriate every criminal in New Jersey.

If Running Scared had been a comedy it would have worked really well. There are so many out of place scenes, mismatched story lines and elusive pieces to the puzzle that you can't help but laugh. It's so loud and so fast that you hardly have a chance to notice the flaws. And then as if by magic, there's a moment of quiet in the storm of bullets in which Joey's wife Teresa (Vera Farmiga) uncovers a child porn ring and saves Oleg from brightly colored perverts - you'd be forgiven for thinking this is a completely different movie to the one you started off watching.

Paul Walker tries really hard to be a badass, but there's no denying his surfer-boy good looks and uneasiness with the dialogue. He delivers his excessively abusive lines one notch below screaming; he comes off sounding like a ghetto girl who just had her purse stolen. Wayne Kramer takes credit for writing and directing the film; he is also to blame for the Las Vegas comedy The Cooler.

Don't bother with watching Running Scared on the big screen. It's the perfect movie for a bored, rainy, Sunday afternoon when there isn't anything else on TV and you aren't nursing a hangover. Get some popcorn, a comfortable seat and turn off your brain. And don't forget the fast-forward button.

- Ashlin Simpson

Too loud, too bloody, and too long - it's everything that's wrong with action films crammed into one. Leave your brain at the door.

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