Running Scared (2005)

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Thriller
New Line || R - 122 minutes - $27.98 || June 6th, 2006
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-05-03

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Wayne Kramer
Writer(s): Wayne Kramer (written by)
Cast: Paul Walker, Cameron Bright, Vera Farmiga, Chazz Palinteri

Theatrical Release Date: December 16th, 2005

Supplemental Material:
  • Writer-Director Commentary
  • Through the Looking Glass - Featurette
  • Storyboard Comparisons

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), DTS-ES 6.1 (English), Stereo Surround 2.0 (English)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.


Running Scared was one of those films, upon seeing the trailers, that I had little to no interest in for a variety of reasons, the most primary of them being is starred Paul 'Bro' Walker. I tolerated him in The Fast and the Furious, was annoyed watching 2 Fast 2 Furious, and absolutely could not stand him in the god-awful, Into the Blue. So, needless to say, my expectations were nearly non-existent for this flick, but to my surprise, Running Scared offers up a bloody thrill ride in the same vein as Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.

The problem some might have with Running isn't the violence, although it does get quite heavy with blood spatter, but instead the how and where the film takes place. Although it's set in New Jersey, writer/director Wayne Kramer (The Cooler) presents an almost fantasy world based upon the Grimm's Fairy Tales including other mythic characters like the Mad Hatter or the wolf in sheep's clothing and many other elements.

For his part, Paul Walker actually turns in a solid performance as a leading man. Many young actors seem to do OK in the supporting roles but stumble when they are put in the limelight. Although Walker was indeed bad in his previous efforts, something about this director and this supporting cast helped him deliver something more. And kudos goes out to a couple of his cast mates including the new Haley Joel Osment (or, as Kramer put it, the male version of Dakota Fanning) Cameron Bright (X-Men: The Last Stand) and the lovely Vera Farmiga (The Manchurian Candidate) both provide great support to Walker's gritty character.

Style-wise, director Kramer borrows heavily from Tarantino's Sin City segment, including a red convertible fit with a rear camera and Tony Scott's Man on Fire (and subsequently Domino) where he utilizes the hand-crank camera in certain shots. He does make some of the shots his own as in one instance, he uses the crank-camera and gives the film a brown and white old tone to it (like the John Wayne movies). I don't know if he's the next big thing amongst directors, but he is certainly more talented than 80% of those Hollywood spits out.

For my money, however, beyond the interesting story aspects, the 11-minute hockey rink shootout stands to be one of the most memorable scenes in modern cinema. It's brutal, vile and filled with more f-bombs than many other mob-centric films I've seen, but it's also just unique, a factor rarely seen today's films where studios and producers play it safe for the sake of the almighty dollar.

In any case, Running Scared is not for everybody. It's violent and has a story that some people either won't follow or don't care to follow. For myself, I enjoyed it for what it was: a movie in the same category as many of Tarantino's efforts.


Given the lack of success at the box office, I didn't expect much in terms of features... and I was pretty much right.

Writer/Director Commentary - Wayne Kramer sits down with us for the two hours and gives some insights into how the film was made. Much of the time he explains what scenes were filmed in New Jersey (only 5% by his estimate) and the rest in Eastern Europe (for budgetary reasons). He keeps it lively and uses up every moment he could talking about what influenced him as well as some congratulations to the cast and crew for jobs well done. A little repetitive at times, but an all around good track.

Behind the Scenes Documentary - More along the lines of a featurette, this runs around 18-minutes and features quite a bit of footage along with the usual sound bites from the cast, the writer/director and the producer. Not a whole lot is revealed outside of an interesting tid-bit in which Paul Walker's brother was brought in for the "gunshot through the window" sequence.

Storyboards to Screen Comparison - We are given two storyboards with the bottom half of the screen for the boards, top for the film. They were drawn by Wayne Kramer himself and cover the opening shoot-out and the hockey rink massacre.



Picture: Presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1 aspect ratio), the film is dark, gritty and bloody as hell. Even the lighter areas are dark in nature and pretty grainy through out. Because of this, I can't tell how good or bad the transfer is, but because it's New Line and a recent release, I assume that it was perfectly well done.

Sound: The sound department offers up the usual Dolby Digital 5.1, regular stereo surround and DTS-ES 6.1 discrete mixes. Switching between the DD and DTS, I noticed a slight difference on the DTS track as it features more depth due to the 6 channel output, however, you can't go wrong with the Dolby mix either.


Normally with a good rating, I'd suggest to go ahead and buy a DVD, but with such a dark film with disturbing scenes and some black humor, Running Scared will not be for everyone's taste. If you enjoy Tarantino then you'll probably have a blast with this. If not, give it a rent, maybe it'll surprise you.