Review: Running Scared

After Paul Walker passed away in a car accident last year, I wanted to see one of his films I hadn’t seen as a tribute. I think I picked the right one.

Husband and father Joe is involved with mob dealings, and when he is asked to dispose of a gun that is used to shoot a corrupt cop he finds himself on the chase for a young boy who took the gun from his house.

This is one of Paul Walker’s highest rated films (on IMDB, and outside of the Fast and Furious films) and it isn’t hard to see why.
While the film is a relatively simple story: father tracks down a gun that implicates him while mobsters, gangsters and police also hunt for it, making it your typical chase thriller, it does have some remarkable aspects to it.
First and foremost, the directing and cinematography style is off the rails; our opening few shots are swooping, sliding camera swings all composited together to make single shots. The film continues with an almost Zack Synder like style-over-substance, painting gritty urban environments with intensity. Which works perfectly given its other remarkable trait.
The film follows closely the tribulations of Joe’s neighbour’s young son Oleg, who takes the gun in attempt to kill his own father. Oleg flees into the city night and encounters numerous urban nightmares along the way, from pimps to child abductors.
No, this isn’t a comfortable film to watch.
But the style in which its implemented sells it, the child actors are great, and Walker himself does a remarkably three dimensional job with an otherwise straight-forward character (I’d imagine Jason Statham doing a worse job) once the film grabs you it won’t let go. A defining trait of the chase movie.

I’m glad I picked this as a tribute, and I’d recommend it to all fans of gritty, gangland thrillers. It isn’t for the faint of heart; there’s plenty of violence, blood and mature themes all shot with an intensely focused direction. I can’t say I can fault it particularly asides from being a blow-for-blow, regular genre film, though the supporting characters do feel like they are thrown in there to up the body count at times!

Additional Marshmallows: I suppose it is difficult to avoid given his choice in films, but Running Scared does open and finish with Paul Walker’s character in a car chase/car accident… given the film’s intensity it was a little unsettling.

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