RUNNING SCARED (Wayne Kramer). 120 minutes. Opens Friday (February 24). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
It's tempting to say that you should be Running Scared from this operatically violent crime thriller starring Paul "let your abs do the acting" Walker . But writer/director Wayne Kramer (The Cooler) has talent, and you can't dismiss this so quickly.
Walker plays Joey, a Jersey mobster who gets involved in the murder of an undercover cop. When his son's friend Oleg (the spookily quiet Cameron Bright , from Birth) uses the gun that killed the cop to shoot his abusive John Wayne-loving father, who also happens to be a member of the Russian mob, Joey must track down the boy and the weapon before both can incriminate him.
What happens to Oleg and the gun is so over-the-top that Kramer is clearly satirizing urban violence. The boy can barely walk a block before meeting white-suited pimps, heart-of-gold hookers and (in the film's most creepily entertaining sequence) a pair of perky child molesters.
It's hard to keep track of the various villains, and the film's biggest drawback remains its lack of sympathetic characters.
Kramer could milk some of the suspense scenes to push us further to the edge of our seats. But he's got a playful camera technique and knows how to shoot action sequences. Look for a particularly grisly and effective scene in a hockey rink.
You won't watch the Olympics in quite the same way afterwards.