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Running Scared

Year: 2006
Production Co: Media 8 Entertainment
Studio: New Line
Director: Wayne Kramer
Writer: Wayne Kramer
Cast: Paul Walker, Cameron Bright, Vera Farmiga, Chazz Palminteri, Johnny Messner
If Smokin' Aces comes out at the movies in Australia and this absolute action movie gem goes straight to video, then either audiences or distributors have got it very, very wrong.

This has got to be the coolest, meanest, most mature action thriller for a very, very long time. It's ugly and brutal, realistic while stylised, violent and brilliantly shot acted and dressed. It's not afraid to use kids, put them in the firing line or give them brains. It's heroes are truly not black or white.

In fact (deep breath), I'd put it very close or equal to anything done by Quentin Tarantino. Joey (Walker, a great actor too often drowning in crap roles but playing a career defining character here) is part of a mafia kingpin's posse of thugs and plays it to a T. Nasty, brutish, sodden with excess masculinity but with something so undeniably likeable about him, Joey is the gopher of the outfit.

When a drug deal goes bad and a seedy hotel room ends up full of bodies - one of them who turns out to be a cop - Joey's charged with disposing of the gun that did it. He hides it in a secret stash at the home he shares with his hot, beloved and streetwise wife, young son and mentally demented father and enjoys the best life a young man can hope for as a small time hood.

But the Russian who lives next door is a nastier piece of work. His son is Joey's son's best friend, and after routinely bashing his wife and threatening his son one typical night, he opens fire in a drunken rage. The kid (Bright) comes to his friends house, and unbeknowns to Joey they make off with the hot gun, the son's friend taking to the hills.

The clock is running out for Joey. He has to find the gun to get rid of it, and fast, before everyone from the cops to his own murderous associates catch up to him and learn the truth. A crooked cop hoping to score and a terrifying pimp are thrown in for good measure and add to the already considerable menace. It's like watching a box full of angry snakes fighting.

Did I mention it's brutally violent? The beautiful thing about everything from the film stock to the dialogue, the splatters of blood and horrific beatings and threats, is that none of it's been toned down to try to get a teen-friendly rating. It would have just crippled it. And you might say you saw the twist, I didn't, and I've never felt so affected by a clichéd ending in my life.

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