Running Scared Movie Poster Image

Running Scared

Grim tale of revenge and fear. Not for kids.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 122 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Gangsters and drug dealers cheat each other; cops are corrupt; a whitebread couple maintains a kiddie porn studio and kidnapped children in their apartment.


Pretty much nonstop: shootings (at film's start, a gang of drug dealers fights corrupt cops, with blood, guns, skewed angles, and fast-cuts; a child shoots his abusive stepfather); knifings; fist fights; an assault with a welding torch; a prolonged assault on our hero with hockey pucks, leaving his face smashed and bloodied; and an explosion set by a house's inhabitant in order to commit suicide.


A full frontal shot of a female dancer in a strip bar; discussions of prostitution and intercourse; women in tight outfits, including an elaborately made-up prostitute who fights with her pimp on the sidewalk; a well-heeled couple kidnap children to film them in sexual situations (this is not explicit but clearly and disturbingly implied).


Some 300 f-words, plus slang for genitals and multiple uses of "ass," "hell" and s-word.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters are obvious drug addicts (shaking and sweating), drink liquor, smoke cigarettes and cigars.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is absolutely not for kids. It's determinedly violent and disturbing. Characters include gangsters, drug dealers, junkies, an abusive stepfather, a prostitute and pimp, and a couple who kidnap children to film in pornographic situations: all are explicitly indicated, if not shown on screen; one scene has characters in a strip bar, where a dancer appears in a brief full frontal nudity shot. Murders and abuses are committed with a variety of weapons, including guns, knives, and hockey pucks; characters appear in various states of undress; language is excessive (over 300 uses of "f--k").

What's the story?

When a drug deal goes wrong and some cops are shot and killed, low-level mafia gangster Joey (Paul Walker) is ordered by his boss to get rid of the gun. Unfortunately, Joey's neighbor's needy son Oleg (Cameron Bright) finds the gun and shoots his abusive stepfather Anzor (Karel Roden). When Anzor lives, his relatives -- Russian mobsters -- decide to kill whoever is responsible, as soon as they can determine his identity. This chase comprises the bulk of the film's action, as Joey tries to get the gun back from Oleg and all sorts of bad guys try to kill Joey and the kid. When Joey's wife Teresa tracks down the missing Oleg, she finds he's been kidnapped into a kiddie porn-making household run by Dez (Bruce Altman) and Edele (Elizabeth Mitchell). Here Teresa stumbles into her own version of the stalker flick, where she's the Last Girl, forced to take up the vengeful violence that she's lamented in her husband, only hers is almost excessively motivated.

Is it any good?


As this bleak film thematizes accident and regret, it maintains an effective aesthetic remove. Oleg's emotional blankness, Anzor's cartoonish excess, even Joey's frantic work to keep all the facts and fictions contained -- all are reduced to fast cuts and zappy pans. It looks cool, sometimes disquieting (too close up), but it's not precisely probing. It gives good surface.

Though Joey seems endlessly able to take the next step in his pursuit of the gun, the gangsters he's up against are so broadly caricatured that it's not long before they're more tiresome than nervous-making. As much as it becomes his plot, Joey's pain -- he's bashed with hockey pucks near film's end -- also aligns him with the women and kids, that is, not only Teresa and Oleg, but also his own son Nicky (Alex Neuberger), and Anzor's fragile immigrant/addict wife Mila (Ivana Milicevic), who once imagined "America" held promise of freedom and riches.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the extreme violence here -- is it necessary? Is it here to make a point, or just to shock? They can also talk about the film's stereotyping of gangsters, bad cops, prostitutes, pimps: Though the movie exaggerates for sensational effect, how might stereotypes reinforce viewer prejudices and narrow-mindedness?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 24, 2006
DVD/Streaming release date:June 6, 2006
Cast:Cameron Bright, Paul Walker, Vera Farmiga
Director:Wayne Kramer
Studio:New Line
Run time:122 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:pervasive strong brutal violence and language, sexuality and drug content.

This review of Running Scared was written by

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Adult Written byelizabeth76 April 9, 2008

Crazy movie, lots of insane action, but VERY EXPLICIT

This movie had an awesome story line and perfect actors for it. But like most movies like this there is definitely an age limit. VIOLENCE: TONS of blood, shooting, and fowl language, tons of F words. A man and woman sufficate children in bags after they use them in sex videos.(no sex video is shown or making of one but is implied) Beating of women, especially a prostitute by her pimp. SEX: A man and woman have a "quicky" in the kitchen, nothing sensitive shown but it is rough sex on a washing machine. In a strip club there are 2 FULLY naked women. (breast with nipples and genitals are shown as they dance provocatively on their pole) A prostitutes breast is shown in one scene and shes dressed in a tight revealing outfit for her pimp. Women are shown mainly as sexual objects and not much as human beings, they are not very respected in here.
Adult Written byuytt2 December 10, 2009

watch alone

good movie the hockey puck scene is disturbing lots of blood language and nudity
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written bycallofduty5 May 15, 2012


As the title suggests this movie is off-limits for kids. Running Scared tells you about a mob gangster called Joey Gazelle. After a failed drug-op he's partner tells him to loose the murder weapon he used to kill a "dirty" cop. Joey's son's friend Oleg finds the piece by mistake and uses it via terrible consequences. A wild goose chase begins and Joey tries to find the gun before the other's or he's six feet invested. The violence is quiet brutal and bloody. The scenes include blowing up a man's penis with a revolver, oil poured over a man and he threatens to burn him alive, two pedophiles getting graphically shot in the head, a man being thrown in the ice rink and hockey players shoot hockey pucks against him (blood seen, very gruesome and prolonged). A child is also kidnapped and held against his will. There's also very frequent use of drugs and alcohol. A man also goes to a strip club and women are seen fully naked. A female character is crouching down on her house and her pants get so lowered that you can see her underwear. Also there's a detailed sex scene. Overall THIS IS NOT FOR KIDS!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking