Running Scared (2006) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Wayne Kramer’s second feature is a tough, gritty crime saga told in a highly stylized manner. Shot in saturated tones and color, appropriately setting the mood for a Scorsese-like tale of hoods, crooked cops, pedophiles and a missing gun. Paul Walker does a fine job playing a NJ gangster, who may be more than he seems. Walker obviously benefited from the collaboration with Kramer because this is his first ‘adult’ role, and he’s convincing; even if his ‘Jersey’ accent wavers into satire on occasion. That being said, its surprising actress Vera Farmiga who was so good in ‘The Departed’ and ‘Up in The Air’ is out of place here. I think her performance is essentially one-note and hammy. Chazz Palminteri shows up as the face of evil incarnate, in the form of a crooked NYPD detective. Palminteri has made a career out of playing men that nearly slither, and very few actors are as proficient spouting the ‘F-word’.

As a screenwriter Kramer is exceedingly skilled at telling an implausible tale with imagination and a willingness to break from traditional linear storytelling. The densely plotted screenplay is an asset. At any moment you may not be interested in what is happening, but it’s okay because every 3-5 minutes the film takes another u-turn. In fact, the experience is so dizzying that when I walked out of the theater I was emotionally drained. Should I tell you that it’s superb craftsmanship and high energy set it apart from others in the genera? Or should I confess that the film left me feeling wrung-out and depressed?

I think this picture will eventually find its audience on DVD and cable, where it can be viewed in segments. Watching the entire film in one-sitting may be too over-whelming for some. Kramer is without a doubt a talented filmmaker, and this movie is a testament to the fact that he can make a riveting action picture. Now I just wish the guy would include some likable characters next time out. The film may hold the record for most ‘F-Bombs’ crammed into 120 minutes

Director: Wayne Kramer
Stars: Paul Walker, Cameron Bright, Chazz Palminteri

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