If I’ve learned anything from the moving pictures, it’s that Russians are always bad. They’re totally crazy, they would love to punch you in the head, and they’re usually up on some high horse about the old country (except for lady-Russians, who never talk and were all “prostitute in Moscow”). Running Scared, the new Paul Walker vehicle from writer-director Wayne Kramer, offers nothing new—except that Kramer’s Russians are also meth addicts. Welcome to the global village.
Walker (he of considerable foxiness and questionable talent) stars as Joey Gazelle, family man and small-time mobster. Joey’s specialty is gun disposal—but instead of dumping said guns in the river, he’s been hiding them in his basement as an “insurance policy” against his mobby pals (another thing movies teach us: Italians make crappy friends). Everything’s fine until, thanks to the aforementioned Russians, one of the guns (“a fucking shiny gun!”) goes missing and Joey has to goose-chase it all over town.
This movie is fucking silly. I’m all for suspension of disbelief in the name of fun—but almost everything that happens in Running Scared is so utterly implausible that one suspects Kramer of outsourcing writing duties to his 13-year-old cousin. There’s a cartoonish pimp (“I’m a mack daddy pimp!”), a troupe of giggling Mexicans, a gold-hearted hooker, and a pair of the goofiest pedophiles ever. The sexy parts, despite the best efforts of Walker’s bare ass, barrel headlong past hot and deep into awkward. But worst of all is the embarrassingly square faux-Sopranos dialogue (sample: “That’s not just any hot piece! Tommy used it to burn a dirty cop!”)—an area in which Kramer should shine, seeing as he’s from South Africa (home away from home for the New Jersey mafia).
Running Scared is a shiny, stylized, exploding pile of suck. But if you delight in a straight razor to the Achilles tendon (slice!), a hockey puck to the teeth (crack!), or a point-blank shot to the genitals (sploosh!)—or if you hate Mexicans, Italians, Russians, and most everyone else, you should probably check it out. At the beginning of this magical journey, Joey’s 10-year-old Russian neighbor, Oleg (Cameron Bright), announces, “John Wayne was a faggot.” But by the end, Joey has him gleefully hollering, “I’m an American! I’m an American!” Hey, me too!