Movie Review: Running Scared
March 17, 2008

If I remember anything about "Running Scared" a year or two from now, I hope I remember that it was the worst movie I've seen this millenium and that I should stay far, far away from it for the rest of my life. It's incredible, really. I didn't think major Hollywood studios still made movies this spectacularly bad. It turns out that they do. They really do.

"Running Scared" is the story of a guy named Joe (played by Paul Walker of "The Fast and the Furious"). At the beginning of the movie, he's one of several people counting drug money in a room. There's a lot of money. There are a lot of guns. Then there are a lot more guns as masked men break into the room brandishing automatic weapons. They dmand the drug money, they force gangsters to the floor and treat them poorly. In general, it's a nasty scene where people say 'fuck' a lot and then say it some more, then add in a few sentences that are made up of almost nothing but 'fuck' for good measure. It's kind of a theme for the movie.

In seconds, though, the tables turn. The guys that were counting money before the assault slice one of the gunmen's ankles and he goes down like a horse shanked by a wolf. It's an all out gunfight. One guy gets his penis blown off at close range, people are diving behind mattresses and taking shotgun blasts to the chests. It's bloody and when it's done, the gangsters find that the thugs who assaulted them... were dirty cops.


Joe is tasked with hiding the guns that killed the cops, but he screws up somewhere along the way and his son's friend, the next door neighbor kid, grabs the gun and takes a few shots at his abusive father... who also happens to be a kind-of sort-of member of some faction of the Russian mafia.

Double oops.

From there, the movie focuses mostly on Joe as he chases after the Russian kid and the gun, through one improbable scene after another while people say "fuck" a lot and visit places like a strip club--where full frontal nudity abounds but you wish it didn't because it just ain't pretty--and a park, where druggies are shooting at each other and a hockey rink (where there's a lot of shooting and more swearing).

Lest you think that my problems with the movie all stem from gratuitous profanity, let me assure you that I am fully aware some people talk this way. I just don't want to see it in a movie, that's all. Or I want a break from it. The stream of profanity throughout "Running Scared" just went over the top, then kept going and going. But no, that's not the end of my complaints.

At least as offensive as the profanity were the cheap cinematography tricks and the absurd plot points. There are "Matrix"-style slow-motion sequences, just because. Do they add anything to the movie? No. Do they occur consistently enough to feel stylish? No. They just feel stupid.

And the plot points I mentioned? Something like 5 or 10 minutes of the film deviate from the main story to cover the adventures of Joe's wife as she discovers a husband-and-wife team of pedophiles. Those are some of the most entertaining moments of the film, but they have nothing to do with the story. In fact, they jeopardize its continuity.

I will stay away from spoilers in case some of you still want to see this train wreck of a movie, but let me just say that there are some moments that contradict each other quite badly. Then there are moments that seem so spectacularly sappy that they have to have been thrown in to appease a hypothetical audience of people who care about emotional endings. Ugh! If you can imagine something cliche or stupid or otherwise damaging to a film's value, "Runing Scared" probably does it at least once... probably twice.

So in the end, my recommendation is pretty clear. Stay away from "Running Scared." Far, far, far away. It's 122 minutes long and around two hours of that isn't even worth watching.


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johnny_cairo johnny_cairo - March 19, 2008 (11:41 PM)
Seeing Paul Walker getting his teeth bashed out with a hockey puck was oddly satisfying. This is also the only movie I can think of where the hero runs outside and screams "FUUUUUUUCK" to the heavens when things aren't going his way. I guess I'm the only person willing to reply to your movie reviews but you know where I stand. Always opposed to your opinion. :)

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