Running Scared (2006 film)

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Running Scared
Running scared.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWayne Kramer
Produced byMichael Pierce
Brett Ratner
Sammy Lee
Written byWayne Kramer
Music byMark Isham
CinematographyJim Whitaker
Edited byArthur Coburn
  • Media 8 Entertainment
Distributed by
Release date
  • January 6, 2006 (2006-01-06) (United Kingdom)
  • February 24, 2006 (2006-02-24) (United States)
Running time
122 minutes[1]
  • English
  • German
  • Russian
  • Ukrainian
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$9.7 million[1]

Running Scared is a 2006 action thriller film[3] written and directed by Wayne Kramer, starring Paul Walker and Cameron Bright. The film follows a low-ranking mafioso who is ordered to get rid of a gun used to kill corrupt cops and finds himself in a race against time when the gun ends up in the wrong hands.

The film was released theatrically in the United States on February 24, 2006.


A large drug deal between New Jersey mobsters and a Jamaican gang goes awry, leading to a shootout that kills two corrupt police officers who were attempting to rob the gangs. Mobster Tommy Perello orders his subordinate, Joey Gazelle, to dispose of the guns; Joey goes home to his wife Teresa and their twelve-year-old son Nicky, and stashes the guns in his basement. Unbeknownst to him, Nicky and his friend Oleg secretly watch him.

Oleg steals one of the guns before heading home to his mother Mila and his abusive stepfather, Anzor. When Anzor becomes belligerent, Oleg shoots him before leaving the house. When Joey goes to investigate the disturbance, he finds a wounded Anzor who then describes the gun. Joey realizes that it is one of the weapons he hid earlier, and rushes to track down Oleg before the police do.

Throughout the night, Oleg runs into many unsavory people, including abusive pimp Lester and his prostitute, Divina. After Oleg helps Divina, she decides to look after him. She takes him to a diner where they find Joey, who is explaining to his boss Frankie Perello that Oleg has the gun. Oleg stashes the gun in the diner bathroom, and after leaving with Divina, he is found by police officers who then return him to Anzor.

Oleg once again escapes, and is taken in by a kindly family. When Oleg becomes suspicious of them, he discretely calls Teresa, who then arrives and threatens her way into their apartment. She rescues Oleg and tells him to leave with the other children, then murders the parents after finding evidence of snuff films and other paraphernalia. Meanwhile, Joey continues his search, and eventually finds Oleg. However, just before he can retrieve the gun, both he and Oleg are found by Tommy, who goes to take them to Frankie.

Tommy takes Joey and Oleg to an ice hockey rink to meet Frankie and Russian mob boss Ivan. Ivan has brought Anzor to try and get Oleg to tell them the source of the gun he used. When Ivan slaps the boy, Joey lashes out at Ivan, and he, in turn, is subdued and beaten by Ivan's thugs. When Anzor refuses to kill Oleg, Ivan kills him, and then turns to kill Oleg. Before he can, Joey distracts him by accusing Frankie of planning to attack the Russians because Anzor was cooking meth in Frankie's territory. A shootout ensues between the two gangs, leading to the deaths of Tommy and Ivan. When Frankie attempts to shoot Joey, the latter reveals that he is an undercover FBI agent, showing a hidden wire under his shirt. Oleg then distracts Frankie, allowing Joey to disarm and kill him. Joey and Oleg then exit as the FBI and local police storm the building.

Joey and Oleg return to the diner for breakfast, and they encounter Lester holding the gun that Oleg had hidden earlier. In the ensuing struggle, Lester shoots Joey in the stomach, but not before Joey fatally stabs Lester with a switchblade. Joey and Oleg struggle to return to Teresa and Nicky. Meanwhile, Mila, thinking Oleg is dead, commits suicide by blowing herself up in Anzor's meth lab. Just as Teresa and Nicky rush outside to investigate, they see Joey crash his car after losing consciousness.

Days later, Teresa and Nicky attend Joey's funeral along with Oleg, who has been adopted by the family. They drive out to a small farmhouse, where Joey emerges, having faked his death to protect himself and his family after being outed as an undercover FBI agent.



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."[4] The film holds an average of 41 out of 100, based on 30 reviews, on film review site Metacritic.[5]

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.[6] 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."[7]


  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 (2006) - Wayne Kramer". AllMovie.
  4. ^ Running Scared at Rotten Tomatoes
  5. ^ Running Scared at Metacritic
  6. ^ Chang, Justin (February 27, 2006). "Film Reviews: Energy and Blood Flow Through Mob Actioner". Variety. 402 (2): 31, 38.
  7. ^ Wigley, Sam (March 2006). "Reviews: Films: "Running Scared"". Sight and Sound. 16 (3): 77. ISSN 0037-4806.

External links[edit]