ReelTalk Movie Reviews  

New Reviews
Jurassic World Domini...
Jazz Fest: A New Orle...
Chip 'n Dale: Rescue ...
more movies...
New Features
Poet Laureate of the Movies
Happy Birthday, Mel Brooks
Score Season #71
more features...
ReelTalk Home Page
Contact Us
Advertise on ReelTalk

Listen to Movie Addict Headquarters on internet talk radio Add to iTunes

Buy a copy of Confessions of a Movie Addict

Main Page Movies Features Log In/Manage

Rate This Movie
 Above AverageAbove AverageAbove AverageAbove Average
 Below AverageBelow Average
Rated 3.01 stars
by 1882 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Style over Substance
by Betty Jo Tucker

Annoying cinematography, hysterical pacing, obscene language, loud special effects and excessive graphic violence combine to make Running Scared extremely painful to watch. That’s too bad, because the movie’s basic plot involving a child in danger is a riveting one. With such a compelling theme, it doesn’t take over-the-top filmmaking techniques to force my feeling of suspense into overdrive. On the contrary, concentrating on style instead of substance usually interferes with my enjoyment of movies like this.

Writer/director Wayne Kramer (The Cooler) dedicates Running Scared to filmmakers Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch), Brian De Palma (Carlito’s Way) and Walter Hill (The Warriors). Not surprisingly, all three have helmed extremely violent movies. With Running Scared, one gets the impression Kramer wants to out-do this trio -- as well as Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill series. Blood gushes over the screen in practically every scene and in the most unimaginable ways.  

When it comes to violence in the movies, I think it should be shown in a realistic light -- not just a bang, bang you’re dead sort of thing. The gory consequences of violence should be displayed to help viewers understand its terrible results.  Unfortunately, Kramer’s approach here treats everything like a fast-paced video game with nothing appearing real at all. His emphasis on visual style at the expense of story and character development left me shaking my head at so much wasted potential. Zoom and pan shots, off-kilter color, shootings played backward in slow-motion, grainy film texture, etc. resemble a series of film school assignments rather than scenes in a movie released by a major studio. 

Still, I didn’t want to walk out on Running Scared. I had to find out what happened to the youngster (Cameron Bright) who stole a gun from his neighbor’s house in order to shoot his abusive stepfather. And I was intrigued by Paul Walker’s (Eight Below) impressive and uncharacteristically intense performance as a low-level mobster whose main responsibility involves getting rid of guns used by his cohorts in their criminal activities.

The young gun thief happens to be the best friend of Walker’s son. Unbeknownst to Walker, both kids saw him stash the weapon behind his basement wall. After shooting his stepfather, the boy hides out, so Walker’s character is forced to go on the run to find him and retrieve the gun. If he doesn’t succeed, the youngster might be killed by the mob and the gun traced back to Walker, putting his entire family at risk. Unsavory characters -- pedophiles, pimps, hookers, drug dealers, dirty cops, assorted gangsters -- populate Running Scared, and the frightened lad meets most of them in some very suspenseful sequences.


With so much evil flashing continuously on screen in Running Scared, I didn’t expect a typical Hollywood happy ending. But I sure was glad to see one.

(Released by New Line Cinema and rated “R” for pervasive and strong brutal violence and language, sexuality and drug content.)     

© 2024 - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Website designed by Dot Pitch Studios, LLC