Running Scared

Running Scared Information

Running Scared is a 2006 crime film written and directed by Wayne Kramer and released by New Line Cinema. The film stars Paul Walker, Cameron Bright, Vera Farmiga, Chazz Palminteri, Alex Neuberger and Johnny Messner. It was released in the United States on February 24, 2006. It received mixed reviews.


Joey Gazelle (Walker), an FBI agent, is undercover as a low-level mafioso for the Mafia boss Tommy "Tombs" Perello (Messner) when he's present during a drug deal gone wrong. Corrupt cops dressed in ski masks, storm in and try to steal the drugs, the money and kill everyone else but a shootout ensues and Tommy looks to Joey to take the guns and get rid of them. Instead, Joey goes home to his wife Teresa (Farmiga), and his son, Nicky (Neuberger). Nicky and his friend from next door, Oleg (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 (Mili?evi"?) and abusive stepfather, Anzor Yugorsky (Roden), the outcast nephew of Russian mob boss, Ivan Yugorsky (Noble). Oleg uses the gun on Anzor after he becomes belligerent with Oleg and Joey goes next door after hearing the gunshots to find Anzor wounded and Oleg gone. Anzor describes the gun to Joey, making him realize Oleg has one of the murder weapons and he knows 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, an abusive pimp named Lester (Warshofsky) and his prostitute, Divina (DeLeon). After saving Divina from Lester, she decides to help him which is how he winds up at the same diner that Joey and Nicky are at. They are there for Joey to talk to Frankie Perello (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. But when Anzor takes Oleg out for ice cream to get him to tell him where the gun is, Oleg eventually winds up in the apartment with two other children of a seemingly normal married couple, Dez (Altman) and Edele (Mitchell) who turn out to be a pair of sadistic child molesting serial killers. Oleg fakes an upset stomach and on the way to the bathroom, he finds Edele's purse by the door and 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 and goes to leave when she realizes something is off. She threatens Dez who eventually indicates a closet in the playroom where she finds Oleg tied up with a plastic bag on his head. After Teresa saves Oleg by doing CPR while keeping the gun at the couple, she tells him to get the other kids and leave. Dez attempts to bribe Teresa with $100,000 in diamonds if she takes only Oleg and leaves. Teresa ignores him and finds children costumes, plastic body bags, children snuff films and surgical instruments in the playroom closet. She shoots the couple after calling the police to report gunshots.

Joey and Oleg are taken to the hockey rink by Tommy where they meet Frankie and Ivan. Ivan kills Anzor when he refuses to kill Oleg and Joey says that the gun is Tommy's. Tommy goes in an attempt to kill him but is killed instead by a Russian mobster where another shootout ensues. Frankie shoots Ivan during the process and goes to kill Joey when Joey reveals his FBI cover. Oleg helps distract Frankie so Joey can disarm him where he then kills Frankie. Joey and Oleg leave the hockey rink in time to see the FBI storm the building.

Joey and Oleg run into Lester, the new owner of the gun and a struggle between Joey and Lester develops that ends with Lester shooting Joey with the gun but not before Joey stabs Lester in the neck with his own knife. Joey and Oleg run and drive 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 makes Teresa and Nicky come outside to investigate when they see Joey crash the car after losing consciousness. Days later, a funeral is held for Joey with Teresa, Nicky, and Oleg in attendance. They drive out to a small farm house, where Joey's car is parked in the driveway. Teresa sits on the car's bumper when Joey emerges from under the car, alive and well, and hugs Nicky and Oleg, who have seemingly adopted Oleg.


  • Paul Walker as Joey Gazelle
  • Cameron Bright as Oleg Yugorsky
  • Vera Farmiga as Teresa Gazelle
  • Alex Neuberger as Nicky Gazelle
  • Ivana Mili?evi"? as Mila Yugorsky, Oleg's mother, once a prostitute in Moscow and brought over by Ivan. He instructed Anzor to kill her after she refused to have an abortion. Anzor instead married her to protect her from Ivan.
  • Johnny Messner as Tommy "Tombs" Perello, son of mob boss Frankie Perello.
  • Chazz Palminteri as Rydell, a corrupt police officer who led a failed attack on the Perello mob during a drug bust, which resulted in the deaths of two of his partners.
  • Michael Cudlitz as Sal "Gummy Bear" Franzone, one of the henchmen for the Perellos.
  • Bruce Altman and Elizabeth Mitchell as Dez and Edele Hansel, serial killers who lure children into their apartments to molest, torture and kill them. Their surname is derived from the story Hansel and Gretel.
  • Arthur J. Nascarella as Frankie Perello
  • Karel Roden as Anzor Yugorsky, Oleg's stepfather and meth addict
  • John Noble as Ivan Yugorsky
  • Idalis DeLeon as Divina
  • David Warshofsky as Lester the Pimp


Running Scared opened with $3,381,974 on 1611 screens ($2,099 per a theater average).

The film received mixed reviews from critics. It currently holds a 40% "Rotten" on film review site Rotten Tomatoes. The general consensus on said site is that, "This film runs with frenetic energy punctuated by gratuitous violence but sorely lacks in plot, character development and stylistic flair." The film holds an average of 41 out of 100 based on 30 reviews on another film review site Metacritic.

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. 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".

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