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Running Scared

Germany / USA 2006
produced by
Michael A. Pierce, Brett Ratner, Sammy Lee, Matt Luber (executive), Andrew Pfeffer (executive), Andreas Grosch (executive), Stewart Hall (executive), Andreas Schmid (executive) for VIP Medienfonds, MDP Filmproduktion, Media 8 Entertainment, True Grit, New Line
directed by Wayne Kramer
starring Paul Walker, Cameron Bright, Vera Farmiga, Karel Roden, Johnny Messner, Ivana Milicevic, Chazz Palminteri, Alex Neuberger, Michael Cudlitz, Bruce Altman, Elizabeth Mithcell, Arthur J.Nascarella, John Noble, Idalis DeLeon, David Warshofsky, Jim Tooey, Thomas Rosales jr, Morgan Johnson, Jamba Mulimwe, Maurice Lee, Viktor Cervenka, Oakley Lehman, Jan Kohout, Karen Joy Cifarelli, Brian Caspe, Ryan James, Ellen Savaria, Jiri Simberský, Petr Horacek, Miroslav Lhotka, William Byrd Wilkins, Ephwaim Goldin, Matthew Blood-Smyth, Julian Littman, Katerina Novotná, James Lambert, Howie Lotker, David Monteiro, Jeff Caster, Todd Kramer, Clara Perez, Andrew Jopson, Louise De Stexhe, Eddie Otero, Andrea Vybiralova, Monika Podzimkova, Jan Vosmik, Roman Kracik, Glenn Wrage
written by Wayne Kramer, music by Mark Isham

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Gangster Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) is asked by his accomplice Tommy (John Messner) to get rid of a gun he has just killed a cop with. Instead, Joey hides it in his cellar ... and before you know it, Oleg (Cameron Bright) has stolen the gun and tried to kill his abusive stepdad (Karel Roden) with it, then he ran away with the gun leaving his seriously injured dad behind. Of course, guns don't remain with little kids for long, so before you know it, it went through the hands of a Jamaican drug pusher, a whore with a heart of gold, a car mechanic and finally the caricature of a pimp (David Warshofsky).

Anyways, Joey desperately needs the hot gun back - especially since a corrupt cop (Chazz Palminteri) is already on his trail -, and he is so desperate that he even takes his own son (Alex Neuberger) with him to get the gun back - but somehow everything is to no avail, and Joey's boss Frankie (Arthur J.Nascarella), Tommy's dad, gets more and more pissed at him.

In the meantime, Oleg has fallen into the clutches of child molesters, and somehow it falls upon Joey's wife T (Vera Farmiga) to free him, and - upon seeing what lowlife these people are - kill the child molesters in the process.

Back at home, Joey meets T and decides to take Oleg with him searching for the gun (though I don't know why, by now it is established that Joey knows that Oleg doesn't have the gun anymore and doesn't know who the gun has, while Joey does know who the gun has). Ultimately though, Joey falls into the clutches of his own mob which has somehow joined up with Oleg's stepdad's mob, the Russian Mafia, and both mobs - including Oleg's stepdad - have come to the conclusion they have to brutally kill both Joey and Oleg. But ultimately, Joey plays the two mobs against each other, which ends in a shoot out in a icehockey arena that only Joey and Oleg survive. Oh, and by that time it turns out that Joey is an undercover cop and has been for the past twelve years (not even his wife knows about that) ... so it seems justice has been served.

But what does Joey do then, does he drive home and bring Oleg home as well ?

Nope, they decide to have breakfast in a diner, where Joey is fatally wounded by the pimp who still has the hot gun. Somehow though, he manages to drive home, where in the meantime (for no apparent reason), Oleg's mum (Ivana Milicevic) has killed herself ...

Joey gets a hero's funeral, but in the end it turns out he hasn't died at all but merely moved to the country with his family- and Oleg, who by now has no parents of his own no more ...


Running Scared is a nice, fast-moving, gritty and violent thriller. It could have been really great too, but somehow that doesn't quite work out for a variety of reasons: Firstly, the direction time and again tries to be so damn cool using flashy camera techniques, shaky cameras, scenes in rewind and over-accomplished pans like nobody's businees that don't help the story to get along one bit. And secondly, the story just tries too much - the whole subplot about Oleg and the child molesters would make a nice movie of its own but is totally out of place in this film since it doesn't help move the actual story along one bit - while it contains way too many leaps of reason - why does Joey in the end take Oleg with him, why does Oleg's mum commit suicide, and how did Joey survive his death in the end ? And then there's of course the ending that is way too cheesy: Why does Joey all of a sudden need to be an undercover cop, why does his family suddenly move out to the country, and why do they adopt Oleg ?

Still, the film is pretty entertaining - it's just a shame that it's never allowed to develop its full potential. It could have been a masterpiece, only it isn't.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD