Running Scared (2006 film)

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Running Scared
Running scared.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Wayne Kramer
Produced by Andrew Pfeffer
Written by Wayne Kramer
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography Jim Whitaker
Edited by Arthur Coburn
Distributed by
  • New Line Cinema
  • Media 8 Entertainment
Release date
  • January 6, 2006 (2006-01-06) (United Kingdom)
  • February 24, 2006 (2006-02-24) (United States)
Running time
122 minutes[1]
  • English
  • Russian
Budget $15 million[1]
Box office $9.7 million[1]

Running Scared is a 2006 German-American crime thriller film written and directed by Wayne Kramer, and starring Paul Walker, Cameron Bright, and Vera Farmiga. It was released in the United States on February 24, 2006.


Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker), a low-level associate for New Jersey Mafia member Tommy "Tombs" Perello (Johnny Messner), is present when a drug deal with a Jamaican gang goes wrong. A trio of corrupt cops led by Rydell (Chazz Palminteri), storm in to steal the drugs, money and kill everyone else, but a shootout ensues, resulting in the deaths of two of the officers. Tommy looks to Joey to get rid of the guns but instead, Joey goes home to his wife Teresa (Vera Farmiga), and his son, Nicky (Alex Neuberger). Nicky and his friend from next door, Oleg (Cameron Bright), secretly watch as Joey stashes the guns in the basement.

Oleg decides to take one of the guns after Joey leaves and goes home that night to his mother Mila (Ivana Miličević) and abusive stepfather, Anzor Yugorsky (Karel Roden), the outcast nephew of Russian mob boss, Ivan Yugorsky (John Noble). Oleg shoots Anzor after he becomes belligerent with him and his mother. After hearing the gunshot, Joey arrives to find Anzor wounded and Oleg gone. Anzor describes the gun to Joey, making him realize Oleg has one of the murder weapons; Joey realizes he has to find Oleg and the gun before the police do.

Throughout the night, Oleg runs into many unsavory people, including a homeless man, a drug dealer, and an abusive pimp named Lester (David Warshofsky) and his prostitute, Divina (Idalis DeLeon). After saving Divina from Lester, she decides to help Oleg, which is how he winds up at the same diner that Joey and Nicky are at. Joey is there to talk to Frankie Perello (Arthur J. Nascarella), the Italian mob boss, about Oleg and to tell him that the gun Oleg used wasn't from the shootout. Nicky and Oleg stash the gun in the diner bathroom and when Oleg tries to flee, he is caught by the police and sent back into his stepfather's custody.

When Anzor takes Oleg out for ice cream to get him to tell him where the gun is, Oleg flees and hides in a parked van. He is then found by a married couple, Dez (Bruce Altman) and Edele (Elizabeth Mitchell) and soon winds up in their apartment with two other children. When Oleg becomes suspicious of them, he fakes an upset stomach and on the way to the bathroom, he finds Edele's purse by the door, takes her cell phone, and calls Teresa. She prompts him to find anything with the apartment's address, and promises to come get him as Dez and Edele try and force their way into the bathroom.

When Teresa arrives, she threatens her way inside and searches the whole apartment, but sees no sign of Oleg. When she goes to leave, she realizes something is off. She threatens Dez who eventually indicates a closet in the playroom; she finds Oleg tied up with a plastic bag on his head. After Teresa saves Oleg by doing CPR, she holds the couple at gunpoint and tells Oleg to get the other kids and leave. Dez attempts to bribe Teresa with $100,000 in diamonds if she takes only Oleg with her. Teresa ignores him and finds children costumes, plastic body bags, snuff films and surgical instruments in the playroom closet. Teresa then uses the couple's phone to call the police. She reports gunshots, hangs up, then murders them both.

Throughout all of this, Joey has been tracking down the missing gun, and is about to finally get it back. But just before he can, he is foiled by the presence of Tommy, who takes him and Oleg to a remote landfill and ultimately threatens Joey with a gun. But Tommy instead kills their partner in crime Sal, revealing that he was discovered to have been a police informant after being previously arrested by Rydell. At the same time, Rydell is killed by a booby trap bomb set up by Tommy.

Tommy then takes Joey and Oleg to a hockey rink to meet Frankie and Ivan. When Ivan brings out Anzor and tries to get Oleg to tell them where he got the gun from, Oleg lies, and gets slapped in the face. When Joey lashes out at Ivan, he is pinned to the hockey rink and badly beaten by Ivan's thugs. Ivan then gives Anzor a gun and tells him to kill Oleg. When he ultimately refuses and attempts to walk away, Ivan shoots him in the back, killing him. When Ivan goes to kill Oleg himself, Joey says in desperation that the gun is in fact Tommy's. Enraged, Tommy then attempts to kill him, but is instead killed by a Russian mobster when another shootout ensues. In the ensuing chaos, Frankie and Ivan go against each other in a bloody brawl, which results in the latter being killed. Frankie then confronts Joey at gunpoint, at which point Joey reveals a hidden wire under his shirt, thus revealing his FBI cover. Just before Frankie can kill Joey, Oleg helps to distract Frankie so Joey can disarm him, who then kills Frankie. Joey and Oleg then leave the hockey rink just in time to see the FBI storm the building.

Joey and Oleg then go to a diner for breakfast before heading home. As they are about to leave, they run into Lester, the new owner of the gun, and a struggle between Joey and Lester develops. It ends with Lester shooting Joey with the stomach, but not before Joey fatally stabs Lester in the neck with his own knife. Joey and Oleg then flee back to Joey's house. Back at Oleg's house, Mila thinks her son is dead and kills herself by blowing up the meth lab in their backyard. The explosion alerts Teresa and Nicky, who go to investigate, where they then see Joey crash his car after losing consciousness.

Days later, a funeral is held for Joey with Teresa, Nicky, and Oleg in attendance; Oleg has been adopted into the family. They drive out to a small farm house, where Joey's car is parked in the driveway. Teresa sits on the bumper, and Joey emerges from under the car; He is alive and well, for having faked his death for his protection as an undercover officer.



Box office[edit]

Running Scared opened with $3,381,974 on 1,611 screens (for a $2,099 per theater average). It went on to make a total of $9.4 million worldwide, failing to bring back its modest budget of only $15 million.[1]

Critical response[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from film critics. It currently holds a 41% approval rating on film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, where the general consensus states: "This film runs with frenetic energy punctuated by gratuitous violence but sorely lacks in plot, character development and stylistic flair."[3] The film holds an average of 41 out of 100, based on 30 reviews, on film review site Metacritic.[4]

Justin Chang of Variety described Whitaker's cinematography, which primarily used Steadicam and crane shots, as "[dazzling] with a desaturated palette that nevertheless has a rich, grimy luster." He also noted the film had an odd plot, which was disarming given it was shot in Prague rather than somewhere that looks closer to New Jersey.[5] Sam Wigley of Sight and Sound said the vicious gangland depicted in the film resembles an "iniquitous fairytale realm," although it is dark, and "passes in a vertiginous blur of comic-book hyper-reality."[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Running Scared at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ a b "Running Scared (2006)". American Film Institute. Retrieved December 30, 2016. 
  3. ^ Running Scared at Rotten Tomatoes
  4. ^ Running Scared at Metacritic
  5. ^ Chang, Justin (February 27, 2006). "Film Reviews: Energy and Blood Flow Through Mob Actioner". Variety. 402 (2): 31, 38. 
  6. ^ Wigley, Sam (March 2006). "Reviews: Films: "Running Scared"". Sight and Sound. 16 (3): 77. ISSN 0037-4806. 

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