Running Scared

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Running Scared Movie Poster Image
Grim tale of revenge and fear. Not for kids.
  • R
  • 2006
  • 122 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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

What 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").

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJustinmtampa February 28, 2019


Waste of time this movie is a horrible porn. Not worth wasting one minute of your life on.
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 par... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bytomogutu100 June 15, 2015


Parents need to know that this movie is not really for people under 18. Violence is strong with blood, aggressive behaviour (result of intoxicating alcohol/drug... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byeastside01 April 13, 2009

Run to see this Over-the-top thriller.

Forget Fast and furious Actor Paul Walker is so over the top that it will leave audiences mesmerized here. Director Wayne Kramer(The Cooler) gives us a great fi... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

  • In theaters: February 24, 2006
  • On DVD or streaming: June 6, 2006
  • Cast: Cameron Bright, Paul Walker, Vera Farmiga
  • Director: Wayne Kramer
  • Studio: New Line
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 122 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: pervasive strong brutal violence and language, sexuality and drug content.
  • Last updated: September 21, 2019

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