Dec 18 2013
Yes, my timing here is very much on purpose. This Paul Walker tragedy happened, and swept over the masses like wildfire. Within a day, I had given my thoughts on the situation. Some agreed and some didn’t, as was expected. To sum myself up, I guess I don’t understand while all the world (actually, all of social media) is acting like he was a saint. I have nothing bad to say about the man, and I know he had a really cool charity he put together to help people in disaster areas. But still, when Paul Walker dies and Nelson Mandela dies, and you are hearing more about the actor, something may be slightly askew with our priorities. Regardless of that, he was in an amazing film that no one saw, so I felt it might be right to say a few nice things about his work while he seems so prevalent on everyone’s mind. The long and the short is, if you see one Paul Walker film, see Running Scared. Just be prepared for it to mess with you a bit.
Whatever you do, do not confuse the 2006 Running Scared with the 1986 Running Scared. Safe bet that unless he is providing the voice of a monster, there won’t be many Billy Crystal movies on any of my lists. Honestly, the 1986 movie is not the worst, but definitely not the Running Scared I am talking about.
Banksy’s old work lacked the wit of his modern day stuff.
No, I am talking about the 2006 Running Scared. The movie that feels a lot like being jumped. No, seriously, You are sitting there, minding your own business, when suddenly you are just lost in madness and confusion, trying to make it out alive. To say this movie is relentless is to undermine it. If there was ever a movie you need an inhaler to watch, Running Scared is that movie. Rather than start up with my thoughts on the story and performances, I will start you out right.
With the opening of the movie:
See, I told you it was like being jumped. This pace never lets up, either.
In Running Scared, Paul Walker plays Joey Gazzelle (best gangster name ever?). A low-level thug who gets mixed up in some shit that gets him in WAY over his head. The movie starts out with a drug deal gone wrong, as some corrupt cops come in and start shooting people, but in the process, get shot themselves. Joey (Walker) is asked to hide the guns. Thus begins the longest night of his life.
This kid always plays weirdos, and plays them really well.
The draw with Running Scared (and pardon if this sounds messed up) is just how intense and disturbing it is. Everyone I know who watched this movie expected a generic action flick. What they got was more akin to a Quentin Tarantino flick than any Die Hard you have ever seen. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned Oleg yet. Oleg, (played by the ever-creepy Cameron Bright) is Joey’s neighbor. A young boy with a horrible stepfather and an overall crappy life. A young boy who just HAPPENED to see where Joey stashed the guns. I think you know where this is going right? If you do, skip to next paragraph. If you don’t, I will spell it out for you, but this is a slight spoiler (though happens very early in film). Oleg shoots his stepfather with one of the guns used to shoot the cops, and now Joey has to find him before the cops do.
This is when the movie really gets frantic.
Part of what makes this movie work so well is just how many colorful (and truly disturbing) people Joey and co. encounter throughout the course of his evening. It seems like everyone in Running Scared’s world is broken or messed-up in some major way. The most notable of these being the married couple who are clearly pedophiles and serial killers. They are just a minor subplot that lasts about fifteen minutes, but without showing anything, manages to be one of the creepiest scenes I have ever seen in a non-horror film. The fact that it is a well-to-do husband and wife (who are completely normal looking) somehow makes it even more unforgettable. Your soul needs a shower after this scene.
This whole scene may be brilliant, but it is also sickening.
By the way, it only gets more insane from there.
The idea of Running Scared is to make that viewer run along. To drag us from insane, harrowing experience to insane, harrowing experience. Also, let it be known, it is incredibly bleak. You know I have a strong tendency to pick dark movies, and Running Scared fits into that perfectly. This is a movie where all sorts of people die, good and bad. It is the kind of movie where you find yourself waiting for a sweet moments of redemption, or a second to catch your breath, and you get neither. You may not be running along side Oleg and Joey in this movie, but the sweat on your brow and the fact that you can’t breathe will force you to believe otherwise.
Granted, this movie is not for everyone. From pedophiles to corrupt cops to suicide to kids getting hurt. It is all here, taboo things most films would not want to get within ten feet of, and this movie rolls in it willingly. Also, big props to Paul Walker for this film. Truth is, before this movie, I just thought of him as a pretty boy. But my buddy Brian told me I needed to see it, and he was right. I also felt it was a good time for me to pick this movie for my Why Haven’t You Seen It column, because, honestly, this is sort of how Paul Walker lived. He lived fast. He lived for adrenaline. He liked pushing himself further than most rational people would go. I am not saying this so your mourn him. As odd as it may sound, I am saying it so you wont. Don’t get me wrong, he left behind a young family, and there is no denying that this is a tragedy. But he knew what he was doing.
Even if you are going too fast, you can still tell someone to stop. Yes, I mean that on many different levels, and they all work here, too.
He lived a more full life than most of us would ever dream. He wouldn’t want you to cry for him.
In other words, he lived (and died) by his own means. He is probably okay with that, and maybe we should be, too. My prayers go out to his family in these tough times, but he died like he lived. Fast.
No pun intended.
Well, this is rather upsetting.
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