Rated: R Reviewed by: Jim Release date: February 24, 2006 Released by: New Line Cinema
Paul Walker tries to show off his action chops in the frenetically gratuitous Running Scared, no relation to 1986 buddy flick with Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines.
Director and writer Wayne Kramer has a watchable cast on view, but he lets loose in a horrifying way, unable to compel the view with interesting characters and ideas as he did in his drama, The Cooler.
Walker, less bland than usual with sled dogs in Eight Below, here is Joey and toils for a New Jersey crime family. The grotesque opening scenes involve a drug deal, and it becomes Joey's task to make the incriminating gun disappear. However, his son, Nicky (Alex Neuberger) knows where it is hidden. And, Nicky's best friend Oleg (Cameron Bright of Birth) takes it upon himself to make his Ukrainian stepfather (Karl Roden of 15 Minutes) pay for being abusive.
The convoluted tale which may be aspiring for what goes on in "The Sopranos" covers a long, violent night following who's got the gun. Chazz Palminteri is on the scene, now as a determined cop instead of tough mafioso type and the talented, rising Vera Farmiga (Down to the Bone) has some tough moments as Joey's beleaguered missus.
Kramer's filmmaking style goes more extreme than the palette employed in the world of loneliness in the gaming capital of the world. Harsh grainy lensing and fast cutting resemble the pattern used to move along Domino, Tony Scott's portrait of a model turned bounty hunter.
Running Scared has similar, arguably more wicked asides that touch on pornography and pedophilia, while the dialogue consistently preaches instead of engaging with discernible wit or insight.
It's clear that Walker isn't right for this sleazy malestrom of a movie, even though he is more sympathetic than expected given the circumstances of trying to stay ahead of the underworld and police. Yet, this fast and furious ride with little suspense is churning like a fax machine or blender out of control. Overwritten, filled with contrivances, and directed with a sense of paranoia, this nasty New Jersey tale is impossible as the Italians against the Russians has a sudden, shocking finality to it.