Running Scared Wayne Kramer

Running Scared is a rare treat. Seldom are we exposed to such overexcited filmmaking that actually turns the unrelenting and preposterous thrill ride into something you feel guilty declaring a "guilty pleasure.” This follow-up to Kramer’s well-received major debut, The Cooler, is as sensational as cinema gets: pretty boy Paul Walker plays a rough Jersey gangster, while his co-stars are so histrionic it’s as if Kramer pumped them full of steroids during the lunch break. Additionally, the slick camera work and vehement use of CGI feel like you’re watching a comic book unfold before your eyes (a brief graphic novel retelling the hockey arena bloodbath sequence, ironically, accompanies the DVD). Even the story is a busy body, using a multi-faceted framework that gives more than just the lead a shot at some heroic justice. Perhaps the most enjoyable component of Running Scared is Kramer’s unapologetic effort to bring in every kind of shocking device he could to make the film so over the top. Everything from the whitest woman-hating pimp alive to a married couple with degrees in kiddie porn and child murder to Wayne Brady as a whispering, dreadlocked bogeyman are used to jolt the viewer into complete mindless euphoria. Oh, yes, and there is a twist ending to the film that will have you pinpointing all of the potential plot holes but just forget about them because that’s what the commentary is for. Unfortunately though, Kramer’s commentary is either filled with desperate tactics to defend some confusing choices, technical explanations, or back patting for being such a "genius.” He lacks any kind of rapport with the viewer, which makes it a struggle to tolerate his self-gratifying stance. The film’s reliance on using so many tricks and an abundance of CGI is justified, however, as he points out every important detail and even comes clean in admitting the film’s not meant to be taken seriously — hence the wince-inducing brutal violence. An additional "behind the scenes” looks at the film in the standard format these featurettes follow. (Alliance Atlantis)