Sunday, September 20, 2015

RUNNING SCARED (2006)



Written & Directed By: Wayne Kramer 
Cinematography By: James Whitaker 
Editor: Arthur Coburn 


Cast: Paul Walker, Vera Farmiga, Chazz Palmenteri, Karel Roden, Cameron Bright, Johnny Messner, Ivana Milicevic, Michael Cudlitz, Bruce Altman, Elizabeth Mitchell, Idalis DeLeon, Jon Noble


After a drug-op gone bad, Joey Gazelle is put in charge of disposing the gun that shot a dirty cop. But things goes wrong for Joey after the neighbor kid stole the gun and used it to shoot his abusive father. Now Joey has to find the kid and the gun before the police and the mob find them first.

The film has it's faults. As everything feels exaggerated, energized and over the top, but it also pulls you in quickly and never lets you go. So that it's unpredictable and you are constantly

On the edge of your seat. It's like an adult fable that has no real supernatural elements, but fills in that absence with clever use of shadows and colors. Plus the feeling that the characters are always being watched and considered for hunting.

The film does feel Like a rollercoaster at times as it has it big leaps and drops and at times it's regular track that lets you catch your breath. Then It begins edging toward a great high again. Though there are some dips along the way you don't see coming also. That by the end you feel exhilarated and want the experience again. Chasing that initial high that probably can't happen but you enjoy going after it.

Though there is nothing childlike about it other than it's sense of wonder and willingness to explore as the characters are forced to live through a living nightmare. That they can't seem to escape no matter how hard they try and each one keeps getting pulled in deeper.

Helping with this Fair tale theory, Edele's last name is "Hansel" (as shown on the prescription bottle that Oleg finds). This is likely a reference to the Germanic tale of Hansel and Gretel who are ensnared by a witch who lures children with candy into her house in order to eat them. When Teresa Gazelle enters the play room for the second time (after she almost leaves), she makes a cryptic comment "It's like some kind of a lore", which edifies the Hansel and Gretel idea. Lastly, Teresa makes a point of looking at the door mat. The scattered letters appear to spell "Willkommen", which is German for "Welcome" Though the film is all over the place at points as a serious crime drama, he. Has some supernatural fairy tale theme incidents. Then some scenes that are so ridiculous and over the top when it comes to accents, plot and characters. That at times you feel like you are almost in an exploitation movie. It makes the film never boring and constantly moving and revealing more.

The accents, motivations, problems and obstacles keep mounting with complications. It's a film that makes death seem inescapable as it seems to dispatch human life quite easily, but makes each one felt and noteworthy as you hope for the somewhat innocents survival.

At times the film can feel ridiculous (especially with the white pimp character who seems like a throwaway, yet becomes vital) though by the end seems well thought out. You can tell passion and imagination went into the film. As there is no other crime thriller quite like it. Here you feel the bones break in a torture session. you can hear the bullets go through the flesh.

I greatly admire the film as it stays inspired and finds new ways to put a spin on crime story cliches. As well as feed a visceral need that the audience for this type of film might need.

What it makes clear is that hell is all around them. Even in the clean safe suburbs where right next door the is mayhem afoot and broaching their home. As they go into the urban wonderland where even help ends up being worse then what you are running from.
The film stays in the criminal underworld. Showing the dealings and procedures and when it does deal with cops. It is no shock they are dirty or trying to do their job but clueless. Though they stay a constant threat and presence in one way or another. So do the thugs, hustlers and criminals. Who are like ghouls and wolves that are constantly haunting or on the hunt.

As we explore this world which lies right next door. We are amazed and shocked constantly as it has plenty of hidden dangers and non-trustworthy predator just waiting to pounce on you unsuspectingly.

The casting of Chazz Palmenteri gives him a juicy role to chew on, but also gives the film a certain authenticity as he seems to be a go to character actor when it comes to underworld films. Plus he is usually quite good in the roles and believable. Though he has an over the top accent. This might have been Paul Walker’s best role. He is intense throughout. Always on the cusp of danger. I will even say that this is not only one of his better performances he ever gave, but to me the best and favorite movie I have seen him in. He was actually the second choice after Thomas Jane had to turn down the role due to scheduling. He would have seemed more appropriate. Though I wonder if he could have kept up the intensity as he seems more a slow burn type actor.

Similarly Tom Sizemore was originally cast as the White Pimp Lester. Though David Warshofsky does a fine job. Really making it more defined then just a character actor bringing in another more campy type performance.

Mads Milkkelsen was originally cast as Anzor The Duke. Which would have given that role a different dimension and made the character a bit more imposing, Not as repulsive.

Vera Farmiga does well in her role. Though her speeches and blind eye to the evils around her seem a little too much, though she gets into the groove of things soon enough.

The film is so chock full of action and twists it feels overstuffed, but manages the material nicely. It feels exploitive as it jumps from believable to a degree to the outrageous. Like a more gritty CRANK type film.

Vera Farmiga character seems like she should be our introduction to the evils of this world. Just like her as we venture, we see how dark it can get. Might have been another way to go. Though in the opening scene we are shown how bad and surprising this film and it's world are. So that we know and let's the film introduce the flame that will set forth the fire that burns throughout this film. That gets it all started.

At first look this film Seems like a basic crime thriller. It's an action film with actual suspense they moves at a brisk pace. Some scenes feel a little comedic and some characters act totally non-challant, about big decisions that seem totally out of character.

The film feels constantly hyper like it had A.D.H.D. As the story and characters seem to be constantly in motion. For as dark as it gets it always has a sense of fun.

The only nitpick I had with the film is near the end.  A certain secondary character is murdered. While we see it the characters never seem to react or really acknowledge it. Even though the care of this character seemed vital early on in the film.


Grade: B+

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