100 of 104 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2013
Mr. Walker having died this afternoon, I decided to watch something of his other than one of the FF series. A couple of gentlemen recommended this film.
He was actually impressively good: instinctual, believable, dynamic. Even if you do not share this opinion, I think you'd have to agree that his charity work was for real and not for show.
He seems to have been quite a decent man: hard working, family oriented, and not taken down by the undertow of celebrity. To anyone reading this who cared about the man, I am sincerely sorry for your, and our, loss.
67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2006
Director Wayne Kramer's follow-up to his directorial debut (The Cooler) shows that he is a rising talent in Hollywood with a flair for drama and suspense that borders the line between reality and surrealism. Running Scared has such a gritty, washed out look right from the get-go that one starts to think it's a film lifted right out of the 70's. But that is only part of what Kramer does in creating a look and feel for Running Scared. Kramer actually uses every kind of trick in a director's book to give his film such an over-the-top sense that the audience really doesn't know what to expect just around the next dark corner.
Running Scared's first ten minutes sets up what the rest of the next two hours are going to be like. Kramer direct's this ten minutes like a man possessed. The direction and editing is frantic and frenetic. Some have said that it's all been done before by Tarantino, Woo and a dozen other action-stylists out of Hong Kong, but I disagree. Kramer's style owes alot more to the grandfather of excessive film violence and that's Sam Peckinpah. I'm not comparing Running Scared to Peckinpah's seminal classic The Wild Bunch but the pace and look of the chaotic shoot-out in the tiny apartment in the beginning brings to mind the opening and closing shoot-outs in that film. Kramer knows he's not making a social statement or even an intellectually relevant film. What he does know is that he wants to tell a fairy tale of one man's hectic day and all the craziness he has to go through during that day. And this is what Running Scared really has turned out to be. A fairy tale set in an modern, dank, urban landscape where our hero (though anti-hero is more like it) and the two kids in his life must travel a surreal place filled with mack-daddy pimps, hooker with a heart of gold, corrupt cops and even a pair of child pedophiles who also turn out to be husband and wife. Running Scared is a like Grimms fairy tale as seen and told in a modern setting.
The cast of actors Kramer has assembled all do a good job in populating this violent, profane modern fairy tale. I'd be the last to think that Paul Walker was an actor who had any talent, but his performance in Running Scared has given me pause to think that maybe its not him, but the projects he's been doing that's given him a bad reputation as an actor. Gone is the California surfer dude persona he seems to be saddled with in all his films. He actually inhabits the low-level mobster soldier he plays as Joey Gazelle. This film may not be his breakout performance but it will open up some eyes. The boy's got some skill he's never been able to show before. The other actor who makes a standout performance is one Cameron Bright who plays Oleg. The neighbor kid whose theft of a mob gun Joey is suppose to make disappear turns Joey's life upside down. Cameron's almost like Pinocchio in that its through him that we see all the crazy characters he runs across. It's a testament to Kramer's direction that he's able to get such good performances from Walker,Bright and the rest of the cast in a film that's as confusing, complicated and surreal as Running Scared.
Running Scared is a wonderful surprise of a film for 2006. It's an unabashed fun, thrilling urban fairy tale that goes for broke in everything it does. Wayne Kramer's direction shows that his very good work in filming The Cooler wasn't a fluke and one-time deal. This is a new director who has shown that he has the skills and talent to stay in the business. He's no Tarantino and surely not in the same league as Sam Peckinpah whose films this one owes alot to in style and feel, but he's making a name for himself as one who can do good work. Oh, Paul Walker does a good job in it as well. I highly recommend this to people who like their films to be fun, but at the same time to have some flash and style.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Wow, what a movie. 'Running Scared' is not to be confused with the 80's movie by the same title starring Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal. This is a completely different storyline, and there is no comedy involved whatsoever.
'Running Scared' is the tale of Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker), who handles weapons disposal for the illicit actions of his friends. But when a gun is used to eliminate a crooked cop, Joey treats it as casually as he treats all his charges, putting it in plastic and hiding it in his house. But this time, he is seen by his son Nicky and neighbor boy Oleg Yugorsky (Cameron Bright - The Butterfly Effect).
Oleg takes the gun and shoots his abusive stepfather Anzor (Expertly played by Karel Roden - The Bourne Supremacy, 15 Minutes, and Hellboy). Now, Joey not only has to find the gun, but protect Oleg and Nicky from being discovered by his mob connections, and still produce the gun for his benefactors.
This movie is a non-stop thriller, literally flowing from one tense moment to another without pause. It's definitely an "edge of your seat" movie. There doesn't seem to be one particular good guy in the entire film, everyone is seedy and foul of character. But when Joey's wife Teresa (Vera Farmiga - 15 Minutes, The Manchurian Candidate) confronts the child molesters, you will raise your hands above you head, clapping and cheering for the white trash woman.
Its not so much the shock level or any surprises that make this film so good as it is the tension level. The director managed to keep a high level of tension throughout the entire movie, which is a rare achievement. 'Running Scared' is a definite nail biter. Incredibly fast-paced, the tension makes the movie seem more graphic than it is. It's the intensity that will make you jumpy, not the graphics. It's worth a purchase. Enjoy!
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2006
I'm getting sick of marketing people, you know? Especially after having seen this movie I'm sick of how often they can misrepresent a product, CD, or (especially!) a film their trying to present. I understand it's a matter of telling people the information that would drive them into spending their money on a 2 hour or so experience, but in this particular case, they dropped the ball big time!
This trailers for this film made it appear as a garden variety action pic. Overtly violent and again without point. Imagine my shcck and awe (I'm using that term a lot more lately.) when I finally saw the film! It twists and turns with a gritty style of filmaking that actually calls back the films from the seventies, the dark crime films like French Connection, as upposed to other films who merely say that but don't deliever.
Paul Walker is just what he needs to be. Gritty, real, and whatever adjectives you wish to put to describe his manic performance. Playing a low level mobster with a loving family, he makes mistakes but goes out of his way to fix them. Cameron Bright, the young actor who plays Oleg is simply stunning. Vera Farmiga? Wayne Cramer is right. Her eyes are hypnotic. She is, as she does in her brilliant turn in The Departed, the moral center of the film.
Fantastic action, great dialouge, amazing camera work, fantastic story! How could they have messed it up? Leave that to the marketing people.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2006
Running Scared was one of those movies that I wanted to see but it slipped my mind cause the preview didn't hook me that much. When I saw it in the video store I had to grab it. The most surprising thing about this movie is Paul Walker, he is a mediocre actor if you ask me but in his defense he's been in a lot of teen flicks the past few years. In his most memorable role The Fast and the Furious he was outshined by Vin Diesel but Walker didn't put up much of a fight for best actor in that film. To get to the point Paul Walker showed his true potential in Running Scared. Not only was his character written very well but he played it right to perfection, you seriously forget he's Paul Walker and start to believe he's Joey Gazelle. The cinematography is amazing, it's very detailed and unique to give those violent scenes that extra something to keep you into it. There's a lot of slow motion, rewinds, and visual close ups to let the power really hit and effect you.
The story is about Joey Gazelle who is involved with the mob but his role with them isn't important until he messes up and lets a very important gun that was involved in the killing of some cops go missing. He then realizes that the gun is in the hands of his son's friend who is getting abused at home and is ready to do something about it. Of all the guns in that house the kid picks that one. Now you're in for a ride and your destination is wherever the gun is going and believe me the gun goes everywhere. The best part of Running Scared is the end when you're revealed the truth about everything including Paul Walker and why he really needs that gun. Everything about this movie is deceiving so don't be surprised if you think you have this film figured out and you realize you were completely wrong. Full of twists and crazy switches the cast follows perfectly and they don't let you down. It's very violent but I think I've seen worse so it shouldn't be anything to worry about.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2006
Running Scared is one of the most intense movies I have seen in some time. What I liked about Running Scared is that it kept my attention almost the entire time, and if a movie can do that to me it has to be a really good flick. I don't want to give the details of the movie away since many reviewes have done that, and I don't want to ruin it for those who have not seen it. I will say this movie is intense and throws some major stuff at you that makes you at times find it very hard to watch. The movie is filmed very different than most movies today and it has sort of a raw feel to it. Paul Walker does a truly amazing job in his performance and deserves an OSCAR or at least a Oscar nomination for his performance. That may sound far fetched to some doubters, but really he is that good. He shows when given great material he can be one hell of an actor. He truly embodies this character and to see him with this high stress level throughout the movie and be able to maintain it just makes me respect his acting more than I thought I ever could. TO be honest I am surprised the movie got an R rating and not a Unrated or NC-17 rating. The movie has more bad words than any movie I can remember in recent memory. As for the blood and violence there is quite a bit, but it is done with a purpose and not just for the sake of being violence. Check out running Scared if your in to movies that keep you on the edge of your seat, but better yet check it out if you like a good action packed movie!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2006
I won't go into details cause if I do then I will give out great parts of the film. Lets just say that if you like The sorpranos and loved The Departed then this is the film to see. Paul Walker finally gave a performance That I never thought he had in him. Here is my score card of this movie.
If you are in a need of one cool gangster film and are still wiating for The Departed. Then treat yourself with a nerve jolting film like this.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2006
And one hell of a great movie, 4.5/5 stars.
I've never been much of a Paul Walker fan, too many 'look at me aren't I pretty and heroic' type roles, Into the Blue, Timeline, etc, kind of soured me on him. But that being said, his performance in this flick, not to mention that of the entire cast, totally blew me away.
Initially I thought this was going to be just another shoot 'em up mob movie, happily I was wrong. The primary storyline has Walker playing a low level mob guy, Joey, charged with getting rid of his boss Tommy's (played by the deliciously dark Johnny Messner) pistol that was used to, unknowingly at the time, kill a bunch of dirty cobs. When the gun disappears all hell breaks loose as Joey races against the clock to recover the gun before Tommy and the rest of the mob boys find out it was ever gone. On that level, it coulda just been another lame shoot 'em up movie, but the subplot involving the screen stealing Cameron Bright's character, and his involvement with the missing gun, is what truly makes the movie take off and sets it apart from action movies of this genre.
That being said, there are a few lags in the pace during the middle of the film, but not enough to truly detract from the film. Some people have commented on the pedophile couple possibly pushing the dark theme of the movie too far, but I personally thought it fit right in. While the rest of the characters in the film were blatantly dark, links to the mob, prostitution, etc, some of them also have their redeeming qualities. Then we have this couple that show up in their bright colored clothes, eerily cheerful demeanor, and they end up being quite possibly the most evil people in the film. Looks can be deceiving.
All in all this was a great movie to watch, although the ending was a little bit predictable, and the reason I'd give it only 4.5 out of 5 stars. It's still worth watching, check it out and you'll understand what I mean.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2006
After seeing the Fast and The Furious movies, my expectations of Paul Walker's acting skills were set pretty low. Though now, after seeing Running Scared, I have learned a valuable lesson. Don't judge an actor by one dud role. Joey Gazelle is caught up in crime. As he and his fellow mob members are counting money from a former job the door bursts open. In walk two men with shotguns and wearing masked hoods. Someone is attempting to rob the criminals. And would a mob gang just roll over and let these thugs take their hard earned cash? Hell no. Both sides start shooting up the place, blood splatters, people get killed, but there is a major problem. The men that were trying to rob them were cops and the bullet that is in the cops body is from Jack's gun. After stashing the gun away, Jack's son's friend Oleg, who had seen Jack stash the gun in the basement, steals the gun and shoots his abusive father with it. Now Joey is on a race with the clock, to find Oleg and the gun, before he is linked to the murders.
Sounds complicated, huh? Well don't get your panties all in a bundle yet. That brief summary explains about the first 20 minutes of the film. Yet while watching this movie, none of it seems overwhelmingly complex. The plot is linked together through convoluted events and a whole hell of a lot of blood. While the script is packed full of crime movie cliches, the plot itself is gripping, unique, and absolutely brutal. There are scenes that will disturb you and make you cringe, without being overtly perverse or graphic. Just as Hitchcock did when he was directing such classics as Psycho, some of the most disturbing things in cinema are the events that the director doesn't show you. Don't get me wrong though, there is plenty of gore and violence to go around, I'm talking Tarintino-esque violence too! But there is one scene dealing with child pornographey and abuse, where what you don't see makes your mind ill at ease.
Wayne Kramer has proven himself to me as a good director with this film. It is shot uniquely and most of the cinematography works well to keep the essence of the theme. There is actually only one other movie that I can think of that had such a unique style of camera work, and that is U-Turn, an equally great movie. Paul Walker performs a strong job as the tough-guy, Joey Gazelle. But the acting job that impressed me the most was of the young Cameron Bright. His role of Oleg is utterly convincing. He is a boy that has been abused in the worst ways imaginable and for many young actors, this role would be a hard bill to cast. Bright does an incredible job capturing the character, not only making the character seem genuine, but making the audience care for the outcome of the boy.
Through all the twists and turns of Running Scared, one thing remains consistent, and that is the total consumption of the audiences attention being focused on the movie. It takes hold of your mind and never lets go. If there was one word that could describe this movie it would be brutal. There was one too many curses thrown in, taking a little creibilty away from the characters, yet the strength of the direction and plot make this film a fun run to take. That is...if you can handle it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Running Scared" defines Cinema Extreme. Why this film didn't do better at the box office is both sad and puzzling. Writer/director Wayne Kramer works both the story and the camera in weird new ways that make the film engaging. He truly sticks to his guns on delivering one of the most uncompromising, memorable and downright brutal thrillers in recent memory.
I wasn't expecting much from this movie with Paul Walker as the star attraction, but this movie was thoroughly entertaining. Walker is surprisingly impressive considering the strictly one-dimensional roles he played in movies such as `The Fast And The Furious' and `Into The Blue.' Here he plays Joey as someone well aware of his impending death should he fail, and throughout he is totally watch able and believable. Cameron Bright steals the show every time he appears on screen, that boy is so talented.
The story might flag at times, particularly in the middle of the film, but Kramer is not afraid to play with the camera-work to keep the audience's attention - whip-pans, CSI-style extreme close-ups, super slow-motion, sepia filters and color bleaching are all used to give the film a gritty and somewhat unique look - take, for instance, the kitchen shooting about half an hour into the film, played from multiple viewpoints in both forward and reverse.
The film's charcoal-dark tone may be too relentless for some viewers, and the pedophile subplot could be considered as taking things one step too far, but as long as you've got a strong stomach and can face hearing lashings of creative swearing, there's a lot of enjoyment to be found here. Unbearably tense, visually inventive and superbly acted from start to finish, `Running Scared' is great action/thriller. For some this may not be the best movie ever made, but out of thousands of movies I've seen, this one falls into my most memorable one.