Finally a good movie (Running Scared)
Short review:Of course no one saw this movie in theaters, but I think I have found an future cult classic...starring Paul walker. I am as surprised as you are. Running Scared is one of the more gritty and entertaining crime/mob dramas to come out in a long while.
Long review:I don't know what the deal is with Hollywood and crime stories, but they just don't do them well anymore. I mean the early 90s had some fantastic stories about criminals like Heat, Goodfellas, Casino, Usual Suspects, Donnie Brasco, etc. Now the mob movies we have to watch are Analyze This and The Whole Nine Yards...and their sequels. Anyway, I hope Wayne Kramer gets more work because his direction and writing in this movie is very good.
Some other critic already described this movie as sort of an urban fairy tale, and while I wouldnt have thought of that myself, its probably the best way to describe it. It all centers around Paul Walker's character who is muscle for the mob and generally handles gun disposal after they have been used. We see one particular gun involved in a shoot out between dirty cops, jamaican drug dealers, and the mobsters. Once this gun is put in Walker's hands for disposal the ride begins. The gun is the driving force of the movie and it passes from one wild character to the next. Walker's neighbor, a russian family, lights the fuse when the russian kid finds the gun, uses it on his john wayne obsessed abusive meth head dad. From there, the russian mob, the italian mob, mexican gangsters, pimps, child pornographers (in a super creepy part of the movie), and the cops become links in a chain following the path of the gun in question.
The plot of the movie is almost just a vehicle moving you from one wild character to the next, sort of like a Coen Brothers movie. You could percieve the massive coincedence that links all these characters together as a weakness of the movie. I know there were people in the theater saying "hey thats just unrealistic that those two would meet up!". But the characters were so intersting that the journey that got you there didnt matter.
I think the biggest surprise is the amount of violence in this movie and Paul Walker's performance (its a good performance). You actually forget its Paul Walker playing a role, very unlike the fast and the furious movies where its more "oh its Paul Walker trying to act again". The russian kid in the movie played by Cameron Bright (who was also in ultraviolet *shudder*) does a great job too. If you arent grossed out by violence and cursing that harkens back to the 70s and 80s era rated R movies, I think there is a lot to like in this movie. I also gotta give kudos to Kramer's directing style. Good use of slo-mo, good use of instant replay type moments, and great scenery. He uses clever editing involving the visual retelling of events and displacement of events in the timeline of the movie in a way that doesnt come off as Tarantino-esque. It just comes off as fun and entertaining. Its unfortunate that this movie isn't doing well in the box office because I am tired of these "soft" R-rated movies that have been populating the theaters. You gotta go all the way (like this movie) or not at all.