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Running Scared (2006)

Holy bejesus, where to begin? More aptly titled Grand Theft Auto: The Motion Picture (and even that is an affront to said game series' sly social commentary and satire), Running Scared is the kind of film that knows no limits, although that description is probably more empowering than I intend it to be. The disposable plot concerns a mob underling trying to recover a gun used to whack a crooked cop before it falls into the wrong hands, or something like that – once the movie begins, there’s little point in trying to discern anything for yourself, as the makers are more content to ram it down your throat with all the class of a raging alcoholic (for the record, expect self-declaratory hookers, pedophiles and "mack daddy pimps" along the way). It’s hard to decide what’s more ridiculous: some of the absurd elements the film tries to pass off as serious (an abusive father whose fuel for anger is a childhood obsession with John Wayne) or its lambasting visual style, the inconsistency and obtuseness of which suggests a kid using Photoshop for the first time, randomly inserting whatever CGI enhancement or camera trick looks cool at the moment. With its nonexistent personalities, an inexplicable obsession with the word “fuck,” splintered scenes seemingly constructed entirely in the editing room, and a complete disregard for the audiences’ intelligence or imagination, Running Scared is quite possibly the worst new release I’ve endured in almost three years.

I'm almost ashamed to admit, however, that at the height of the film's preposterous climax, I experienced one of those rare feelings of incredible illumination, a profound sense of heightened awareness washing over my senses in a moment of dawning awareness. For a fleeting instant, I felt intimately connected with the inevitable moment of my own death, the finality of life's end, the uncertainty of existence beyond the realm of the flesh. This has happened before; during one of Before Sunset's exquisitely intimate conversations, I felt an immense peace deep within, knowing that life would one day end and that everything would somehow be okay afterwards. With Richard Linklater's masterpiece, it was the result of the connection between the viewer and the work, an intangible product of art that unveils previously unknown feelings and gives life itself added meaning. With Running Scared, on the other hand, I quickly realized that it was merely indicative that the film itself had caused a little bit of me to die inside.