Be Very Afraid

by Alan Rapp on February 24, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

I think Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal have grounds for a defamation suit against the makers of the new film Running Scared considering how much ill-will this film shall deservedly earn.  The film borrows the title from the 1986 film but sadly nothing else.  The new movie stars Paul Walker as a mob flunky whose job is to dispose of guns used in mob crimes.  The film is a mishmash of bad camera moves, annoying film techniques, a stylistic writing syle of torturing the audience as much as the characters, with editing that I can only assume was done as a joke.  How bad is this film?  Well let’s just say the pair of child molesters (who apparently got Tim Burton to decorate their apartment and keep Freddie Kruger and the Gnarl creature from the 7th Season of Buffy in thier shower) come off as sympathetic as anybody else in the film.  Yeah, that’s bad.

Running Scared (2006)
Negative Stars

I wonder how some films get made; I really do.  Running Scared is one of the worst movies to be dropped on an unsuspecting public in years.  I know I told you Freedomland was awful (and it was) but Scared digs deep down into the same pile of sludge and manages without much effort to be even worse.  The film uses issues – child abuse, murder. children shooting guns, torture, inappropriate sex, children being beaten and threatened with guns and knives, child molestation and child pornography, and the total legitimacy of blowing away the bad guys as the right thing to do – as empty plot devices to keep the “action” rolling right along.  Much like Freedomland the film doesn’t deal with any of these issues only exploits them for cheap thrills, but Scared does it over and over and over again with joyfully perverse glee. 

It’s horrific and it’s not helped by the odd camera techniques and editing style that I’m sure was supposed to be some kind of homage to Tony Scott and Ridley Scott in the same way the story is “honoring” Tarrantino and the weird look and moments are “honoring” Tim Burton and David Lynch.  Far from honoring them however the film mashes all of it together into an almost completely inarticulate unwatchable mess (more than one person left the free screening well before it was over, and do I wish I was one of them!).

Still reading?  Boy you really are a glutton for punishment.  The “plot” involves Joey (Paul Walker) who works as a mob flunky entrusted with disposing of guns used in mob related crimes; instead Joey decides to hide them in his basement, still loaded, in plastic Ziplock sandwich bags.  Why the mob trusts this job to a complete screwup like Joey or why Joey would keep all the guns in his basement are just two of the many questions that will make your head explode if you think too much about the film. 

While hiding a gun in his cleverly concealed hiding spot he is noticed by his 10 year-old son Nicky (Alex Neuberger) and his best friend Oleg (Cameron Bright).  Oleg has been getting the snot beaten out of him by his father for years and decides to steal the gun and shoot his father (John Noble).  As a side note, the film includes a speech by Joey to Oleg about Joey’s experiences being beaten by his father until he was fourteen and beat him into a near braindead slobbering mess (flashbacks tastefully included) and he tries to persuade Oleg to wait until he’s a little older and do the same thing.  Ah what wonderful fatherly advice; god, this kid is going to be screwed up by the time this film mercifully ends.

Things get sticky because the gun he picks was just used to kill two corrupt cops in a drug deal gone wrong.  Things get even sticker because Oleg’s father is the brother of a Russian mob boss.  So of course we get a long list of nameless interchangeable mobsters (Johnny Messner, Michael Cudlitz, Arthur J. Nascarella, Karl Roden, Jim Tooey, and more) who appear on screen to cause havoc without any real purpose or reasoning to their actions.  Joey sets out to find the kid and the gun before his bosses find out that he let the gun get taken and used in a shooting.  From there story devolves into one of those films were the character is chasing something but is always too steps behind and two minutes late.  We’ve seen this done (much, much better) many, many times before.

Then we get to the subplots.  One subplot includes a crooked cop (Chazz Palminteri) wanting to burn Joey and giving Oleg back to his abusive father who he just shot in hopes of pressuring him to give up Joey and the gun.  Another deals with Oleg getting mixed up with a pair of child pornographers (who for some weird reason are keeping the Gnarl creature from the seventh season of BTVS in their bathroom) while running away from his father only realizing too late what is happening and calling Nicky’s mom Teresa (Vera Farminga).  Her solution to the problem is as horrendous as the rest of the film.

Aside from using such issues as cheap plot points the film never actually deals with the issues or merges them into a coherent story.  To try and solve this issue the film is shot and edited in such a way that makes no sense what-so-ever.  Quick cuts, odd camera moves, color manipulation and more create a visual nightmare for the audience that instead of distracting you from how bad the film is only adds more fuel to the fire.  I like how Tony Scott uses camera techniques to add to the flavor of his films but in the hands of an imitator like Kramer (who has obviously never heard of the word subtle) it’s simply dreadful.

The film feels like it was done by the illegitimate retarded crack addict son of Tony Scott and Quentin Tarrantino who had Twin Peaks forced indoctrinated into his brain during his frontal lobotamy; it’s painful to watch.  I can’t imagine how the film could have been worse and the fact that the film got made, marketed, and released boggles my mind.  After the film ended I wanted everyone involved round up and shot for stealing two hours of my life.

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