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Running Scared (0/10)

by Tony Medley

I ran, but I wasn't scared.

A movie should establish its verisimilitude at the outset. This starts with a bloodied young boy being thrown into a convertible and driven at breakneck speed...then flash to some bad guys doing a drug deal in a seedy hotel. The door bursts open and in charge several guys in what looks like Doc Holliday-type coats and black masks, wielding shotguns. They force everyone on the ground and demand that they disarm themselves and toss their guns under the beds. The guys on the ground comply amidst a deafening yelling-fest replete with an onslaught of copious and tiresome F'ing expletives.

Here's the picture: the drug dealers are on the floor on their stomachs; the interlopes are standing up with shotguns pointing at the heads of each of the drug dealers on the floor. Suddenly one of the drug dealers pulls a knife and slices the Achilles tendon of one of the shotgun wielders. The next thing we know, all the shotgun wielders are dead and the guys on their stomachs on the floor with shotguns to their heads are all alive. In real life, the guys on the floor with the shotguns to their heads would be dead in three seconds. Shotguns are close range are devastating. But in the ensuing gunfight with the adversaries no more than a couple of feet apart, the shotguns hit nobody! Nobody! The pistols, on the other hand, in the hands of the drug dealers, are incredibly deadly.

That's bad enough. Then one of the drug dealers, Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) goes home to his wife, Teresa (Vera Farmiga) and son, Nicky, (Alex Neuberger). He bursts into t/he house and immediately engages in as derivative a sex scene as possible, taking her from behind, pulling his pants down so he flashes his rear end, not a pretty sight. Then he turns her around, starts ripping away her pants, and engages in more graphic sexual acts. All the while Nicky is somewhere around the house with his friend from next door, Oleg Yugorsky (Cameron Bright). Living with them is Joey's father, Pops (Jan Kohout), a feeble-minded old man who exasperates and irritates Joey because Pops is not longer capable of feeding and caring for himself.

Flash to next door into Oleg's house and we understand why Oleg was reluctant to go home. The tattooed stepfather, Anzor Yugorsky (Karel Roden) is intent on watching a DVD of an old John Wayne movie. Flash to a too close up close-up of an intimidated wife, Mila Yugorsky (Ivana Milicevic), serving him his dinner, quivering in anticipation of the back lash of inevitable complaints, trying nonchalantly to appease and obvious brute. Flas to the creepy stepfather with evil violence seeing barely below his surface who demands that Oleg sit and watch his favorite movie with him. Backtalk. Brutal slam to the head of a young child! Ugly.

The film tells the story of a minor mobster who is ordered by his mob bosses to dispose of a gun used in the killing of a corrupt cop, but, instead, Joey keeps it. Unfortunately for Joey, the gun is taken by Oleg, who uses it to shoot Anzor, then runs away. Everyone is chasing Oleg, including Joey, who justifiably fears for his family’s well-being.

What makes the film immeasurably worse is the grotesque, pseudo-avant garde cinematography. The close ups are so close up, you can almost see each individual pore. A head shot isn’t just a head shot, it’s a nose and mouth shot. The cinematography is termed “gritty” by the producers because it’s grainy, like a documentary. I call it just simply hideous.

Ugh! What this movie needed was some humor. What this movie needed was some humanity. Maybe something true to life. Maybe. However, since the film is “dedicated” by writer/director Wayne Kramer to Sam Peckinpah, Brian de Palma, and Walter Hill, those options were apparently impossible. This is a vile, violent film with no raison d’etre.

February 23, 2006