Running Scared

2006

Running Scared

Critics Consensus

This film runs with frenetic energy punctuated by gratuitous violence but sorely lacks in plot, character development and stylistic flair.

41%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 130

79%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 135,375
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Movie Info

A minor crook finds himself in major peril when a "hot" weapon goes missing in this violent crime thriller. Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) is a low-level "mechanic" in the Mafia who hopes to rise through the ranks by doing whatever is needed. One night, a drug deal goes very wrong when police show up and try to close down the operation; shots break out and a battle ensues, with a pair of of cops meeting a particularly violent fate at bad end of a gun barrel. Joey is given the gun that killed the policemen and is told to make it disappear so it can't be used as evidence; however, before he can do that, the weapon is stolen by Oleg (Cameron Bright), a friend of Joey's young son, who takes the pistol and uses it to shoot his abusive stepfather. Now that the gun is implicated in high profile crimes, it's vitally important that Joey find it as soon as possible, but his search for the firearm is complicated by the fact that Oleg's stepdad is affiliated with a rival gang of Russian mobsters, and that Rydell (Chazz Palminteri), a seriously corrupt police detective, is hot on Joey's trail. Joey's search for the gun takes him through the grim criminal netherworld of the city, where he must face off against nearly every sort of crook, con artist, and deviate that has ever walked the earth. Running Scared is from writer-director Wayne Kramer, who made a name for himself with the well-reviewed independent feature The Cooler. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cast

Paul Walker
as Joey Gazelle
Cameron Bright
as Oleg Yugorsky
Vera Farmiga
as Teresa Gazelle
Karel Roden
as Anzor `Duke' Yugorsky
Johnny Messner
as Tommy `Tombs' Perello
Chazz Palminteri
as Detective Rydell
Alex Neuberger
as Nicky Gazelle
Michael Cudlitz
as Sal `Gummy Bear' Franzone
John Noble
as Ivan Yugorsky
David Warshofsky
as Pimp Lester
Maurice Lee
as Jamaican
Oakley Lehman
as Ski Mask
Jan Kohout
as Pops Gazelle
Jeffrey Smith
as Paramedic
Karen Cifarelli
as Police Officer 1
Brian Caspe
as Police Officer 2
Ryan James
as Orderly
Ellen Savaria
as Operating Room Nurse
View All

News & Interviews for Running Scared

Critic Reviews for Running Scared

All Critics (130) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (53) | Rotten (77)

  • With audiences jaded by the usual sex and splatter, do the filmmakers have no qualms about juicing up proceedings with edgy but troubling material which clearly needs more conscientious handling? Apparently not.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
  • Presumably patterned after Robert Rodriguez's Sin City, but substantially more graphic, there is surely an audience for this empty brutality, but you would not want to know anyone to whom this picture appeals.

    Mar 11, 2006 | Rating: D
  • No one in their right minds could call this a good film, but it's certainly unique.

    Mar 11, 2006 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Andrew Pulver

    Guardian
    Top Critic
  • We haven't even mentioned the hockey puck torture scene, or the relentless ricochetting camerawork, or the multiple last minute switcheroos -- it's got more endings than Lord Of The Rings.

    Mar 11, 2006 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

    Paul Arendt

    BBC.com
    Top Critic
  • The end result of all these cross-mob confrontations is an orgy of nihilistic violence that is curiously exhilarating, I am almost ashamed to say.

    Mar 1, 2006

    Andrew Sarris

    Observer
    Top Critic
  • It says something when the most sympathetic character is a kid who shoots his dad with a stolen pistol.

    Feb 28, 2006 | Rating: C

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Running Scared

  • Oct 09, 2013
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Sep 15, 2013
    The Fast and the Furious was meant to be Paul Walker breakout role, but was overshadowed by costar Vin Diesel. Not sharing the spotlight as Diesel who went on to become the face of the "Fast and Furious" franchise Paul Walker disappeared from the public radar. Outside of the "Fast" series Walker has had mixed results with "Running Scared" being one of his better films. It might be more over the top than a eccentric cartoon, but it's impossible not enjoy how the film plays out. Running Scared follows a low-ranking thug who is entrusted by his crime boss to dispose of a gun that killed corrupt cops, but things get out of control when the gun ends up in wrong hands. The events of the plot play out like a cartoon; one bad event triggers another bad event escalating the problem. It's astonishing exactly how many story set pieces the film throws at you so much in fact discarding two dimensional character development for a fast pace. Keeping the film in constant movement the plot has a tendency to be all over the place going from domestic abuse to children abduction in the span of less than 24 hours. Making the plot device very visible from the start. Once the first gunshot is heard we follow whoever holds the gun and someone attempting to take the gun away from that person. It hardly departs from its own formula, but the overabundance of scenarios keeps it going from one point to another during which characters attempt to survive or reach their goal. Characters are archetypes representing a theme to that certain character. One archetype deals with the realization of accepting how false the American dream was made to him through a film (John Wayne's The Cowboy) while another presents a younger version of the protagonist in a similar experience of possibly falling into a similar criminal life. Our protagonist is the closest the film gets to a three dimensional at times going into his background and morality while other are stereotypes. They serve the main purpose of making our heroes look good in comparison by being even crueler. In the film climax a twist is reveal bringing to mind to several plot holes including the fact the protagonist could have resolved everything sooner than letting things play out risking several lives in the process. Limited by the material the acting has no real standout. Paul Walker is decent in the leading the role. His role doesn't require much from him aside from him looking serious in nearly every scene he's in. Walker hardly has any moment where he is loose or not angry about everything not going his way. Supporting cast suffer a similar fate playing archetypes or stereotypes. These ranges from the abusive drug addicted father, the crooked father, over the top pimp, prostitute with a golden heart, and among others being portrayed in a generic fashion. The supporting cast performances while solid bring nothing we haven't seen before to the roles. Wayne Kramer direction has some questionable editing decision that make no sense being notably distracting in the overall style. Kramer direction pull through being able to maintain a serious tone regardless of how over the top it gets. One scene not so much as Kramer was unable to make execute to any success involves our protagonist being hit in the face by notable CG hockey pucks by hockey players. A moment where the audience is meant to be worried about the protagonist ends up taking you out of the film. Action scenes are few and far in between. Gunfights are sped up ending quickly upon being set up. Gun shots here have an a drastic impact hitting their weightless target at times flying further than what one would expect. If you're wanting to see action than you'll be disappointed. Running Scared has a cartoony premise that gets it job done for a decent thriller. The plot is filled with holes and a twist that makes the hero of the film look idiotic, but the it keeps adding risk putting the character lives as constant risk and goes into an unexpected direction with it plot. Nothing in the film without a doubt is outstanding in any way, but the overall results are positive fulfilling what it sets out to do as a thriller even if it is over the top.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 28, 2011
    Visually very stylish with no redeeming characters, but I liked it more than I expected. The first act really grabs you then it turns into an over- the-top kenetic ride. Unfortunately that ride makes you sick and you're disappointed you ever got on it.
    Wu C Super Reviewer
  • Oct 18, 2011
    A passionate and excellently made action film where writer/director Kramer invites you to interpret and engage with his hyper-reality. A tour through America's problems or a fairytale? His characters are grotesques and his world is simultaneously hilarious and painfully sad. I don't know why this isn't considered a modern day classic. Die Hard meets Fellini? No. But maybe.
    Max C Super Reviewer

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