Paul Walker and director Wayne Kramer do a very good job keeping us entertained.
I found the plot to be a tad confusing.
Running Scared is a somewhat convoluted tale of the mob, thugs and a man trying to control a situation that is boiling out of control. I found the plot to be filled with zigs and zags, and while I was confused at times, I think that for director Wayne Kramer that was the point.
Joey (Paul Walker) is a low level hit man who is put in charge of hiding a gun that was used in killing some police officers in a drug deal gone bad. When his son and a friend see what Joey is doing, the friend steals the gun and kills his father who had been tormenting him. This kicks off a series of events that somehow always come back to the gun. Determined to get the gun back, it isn't helping matter's that the boy who shot his father also happens to run with the Russian mob. The film soon becomes one of Joey doing anything he can to retrieve the pistol in question, and if his life wasn't bad enough, he has Rydell (Chazz Palminteri) a corrupt police officer coming after him as well.
With more twists and turns than you can shake a stick at, Running Scared is not for the faint of heart.
Commentary with writer/director Wayne Kramer
Wayne Kramer seems like a director who is going to get very big in the action genre. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we suddenly hear he's doing a major comic book movie or Rambo IV next. He talks about making the film, working with Paul Walker, the almost fiery look of the movie, and everything else. It seemed like he didn't sit down with any preconceived ideas and just wanted to share his experiences with the movie as the backdrop.
A pretty typical "making of" in which we hear from most of the creative people behind this film. While they don't really go too in-depth in any area, they do focus on the actors and the story which is pretty much what you would expect. I don't think that a movie like this really needs to be delved into too deeply. The brains behind this film just seem intent on making something that is going to excite audiences more than anything else.
Storyboards drawn by Wayne Kramer
These storyboards are really well drawn. In fact, as I was looking at them, I realized how much this movie did seem like a graphic novel in that the character seemed to go on many different journeys toward his goal. One can see by these drawings how thought out this film was, and how it really came from a place of Kramer's deepest conception.
Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. This movie seemed small when it was released yet the tale told seems like a quintessential 1980s action movie. What director Wayne Kramer and his cinematographer Jim Whitaker have done is infuse this movie with 21st Century film language. They achieved a nice level of suspense by keeping the story moving the entire time. On DVD (I didn't see the film in the theater), I think they did a good job of pulling this off because the movie seemed contained, whereas I might have been too bombarded by all the images in the theater.
Dolby Digital 6.1 ES. Dolby Digital 5.1. Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. The audio in this film adds a huge component to the suspense factor on screen. I am not sure how it's done, but I'll just say I'd much rather watch this kind of buildup in an action movie than in a horror one. What I mean by that is, I think suspense is achieved better when the action is A) straight forward and B) easy to follow. The audio adds an accompaniment to this movie, but it never gets in the way and it's never overdone.
Paul Walker graces this comic bookesque front cover holding a gun. There are various images from the film all around him. They have really sharpened the edges of this image to play on the whole graphic novel idea. The back cover gives consumers a description of this movie, some more images from the film, a Special Features list, a cast list and a few technical specs. Overall, a tidy bit of packaging that doesn't give us anything we don't need.
Overall, I was pretty surprised by how much I liked this movie. I didn't really know anything about it except that the aforementioned Paul Walker was in it. Realizing how supercharged of a film it was, I couldn't understand why Running Scared didn't fare better in the theaters. Made for $17 million, it only grossed $7 but I am sure that it probably made that up on DVD. I have been hearing a lot of talk lately that that market has gone soft, but this seems like the kind of film that is geared not only toward the next generation technology, but toward next generation moviewatchers as well.
If you like your movies quick, full of action, and with somewhat incomprehensible (and coincidence laden) plots, Running Scared should more than give you your fix.
Running Scared was released January 6, 2006.