STUDIO: New Line
MSRP: $27.98
RUNNING TIME: 122 Minutes
• storyboard comparisons
• commentary
• featurette

The Pitch

"Where the fuck is Gregory Hines? Oh, he got defeated by God. This is the OTHER Running Scared, the gritty action thriller with Paul Walker from the guy who made The Cooler."

The Humans

Paul Walker. Vera Farmiga. Johnny Messner. Chazz Palminteri. Cameron Bright, Michael Cudlitz.

The Nutshell

A low level mobster (or IS he?) is charged to dispose of the pistol that killed some coppers, but when that gun is used by a little kid the chase is on to find the gun, erase the evidence, and stay alive while everyone and their mother is after you. Paul Walker is… RUNNING SCARED!

About time they did an animated flick with Nicolas Cage.

The Lowdown

I’ve defended Paul Walker a little in my day. Sometimes for good reason and sometimes because I just don’t think blandness is always a bad thing in a leading man. I think people who don’t think things through assume that Walker walks around saying “Braugh” all the time and high-fiving random fraternity members and talking about the “hottie he banged”. Thanks to Running Scared I don’t have to do it anymore. Paul Walker isn’t passable, decent, or sufficient in this movie. He’s terrific. Writer/Director Wayne (The Cooler) Kramer has seen the value in Paul Walker and given him a dark, vicious playground to run amok and seal the deal that he does possess acting chops. Very solid chops.

"Forget the croissant, my plans just changed!"

The opening moments of the film are a lesson in filmmaking confidence and a wake-up call that this film isn’t taking itself too seriously. Bodies fly across the room when shot, time displaces, and a mattress is enough cover from a barrage of small arms fire. It’s kinetic. It’s agressive. It’s a ton of fun. It also makes no bones about uncorking f-bomb after f-bomb in an attempt to make "fuck" as popular a word as "the". I think they succeeded. The decision to make this opening scene available on the web before the film’s release was a wise one, and though it didn’t result in Dawn of the Dead type business, it certainly showcased the tone and Paul Walker’s ability to "do gritty" in spades

The film centers on a deal gone bad, dead cops, and a gun that carries the fate of many should it fall into the wrong hands. When that gun is used by the next door neighbor of low level thug Joey Gazelle (Walker), a kid no less (played by the omnipresent and nearly alien Cameron "Birth" Bright), the race is on for our hero to get the weapon back in his possession before all Hell breaks loose. What follows is an intense and often effective thriller set against a Grimm’s Fairy Tales backdrop, one that never falls too much in love with being cool as has been the case for many stylish action flicks. It is very aware of how many films its audience has seen and seems content to just deliver a vicious and visceral experience.


When it’s really clicking, the film never slows down to allow the viewer to breathe, allowing the twists to hit hard and be replaced by another before the adrenaline has had a chance to reload. The most effective moment being the "child molestor" sequence, one of the few in which Paul Walker isn’t involved, surprisingly. The less said the better, but let it be known that it’s as creepy as anything in L.I.E. or Happiness but somehow delivered without ruining the momentum or tone of the film.

The film also wisely allows the high concept of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale inspired thriller to be a value added aspect of the experience rather than the focal point. What could be a crutch ends up being a neat thing to enjoy on repeat viewing, and when something a little heightened happens there’s an excuse for it. As a result, Running Scared may end up being one of those films that ends up not only a great sleeper for open-minded folks but a deserving mini-classic in its own right. Wayne Kramer has already come out of the gate swinging with The Cooler, and this is even more confident and singular. I feared the fun and magic of the experience would be lost on the second viewing, but what felt almost like pandering in the theater just comes across as genuine and relentless fun on video.

So, yeah… this is a great little flick.

That’s one heck of a special effect. What, it’s Chazz Palminteri? God help us all.

Walker’s the glue, but he’s surrounded by a great group of talents both subtle and gleefully over-the-top. Elizabeth Mitchell and Bruce Altman are a couple both eerie and perfectly glazed-over in their Cleaver-esque normalcy. Both performers have been around a while but neither has had a defining moment like the one in this film. Vera Farmiga could have easily just been the wife character and made her transformation into a woman of action by taking the "Oh I’m a bitch now!" persona. Instead there’s a fear and thought process behind her eyes that sells the rather farfetched notion of her character taking charge. Johnny Messner is icy as one of the many villains of the film, taking his Anaconda 2 brilliance another notch. Karel Roden is exactly what we expect and need from Karel Roden, creepy as tits and intense as a nuclear suppository. John Noble is unreconizable as a Russian kingpin, channeling Tony Plana in a major way. There’s no Denethor to be found, that’s for damn sure.

Chazz Palminteri? Well, he’s Chazz Palminteri. I have grown to not expect much from him these days and he delivers.

And then there’s the real star of the film. Wayne Kramer. He seems to really not give a shit what people think, instead focused on doing it his way and ignoring the collateral damage. It’s refreshing, because even if this were a failure, which it isn’t, he’s in it with the right intentions and I’ll take a kitchen sink approach over the toilet bowl we’ve been wallowing in since the arrivial of bitches born in the offal of Pulp Fucking Fiction.

Probably still a little too soon for that Columbine sitcom.

The Package

Here’s what you get, you crazy bastids…

You get a very informative commentary track from Wayne Kramer, who uncorks so much information that it’s almost too much. It’s a great track though, one which has convinced me that yes, the man is British. He goes into detail about all the little nuances of his film and does a good job of silencing the Paul Walker critics who didn’t "get it" just from his solid performance in the film. He has the energy and focus more commentary tracks need.

There’s also a very solid featurette and if anyone felt lost by the Grimm’s Fairy Tale stuff, this ought to silence them. There’s also storyboards!

Honestly, I’ll take a disc like this with smart features over an overloaded release more concerned with making a press release sound intimidating than actually delivering content that enhances the experience. It never should be about how much a disc has but rather how good it is. This ain’t a lot but it’s great stuff.

And we don’t even need a double dip. Studios, pay attention.

8.5 out of 10