Running Scared 2006 ****

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The death of star Paul Walker will likely make his 2006 thriller Running Scared into something of a cult item; if it does, it’ll be a belated but well-deserved recognition of an energetic, original B movie that is packed with neat and sometimes disturbing ideas.  Writer/director Wayne Kramer casts Walker as Joey Gazelle, a tough thug entrusted with disposing of a gun used to kill a policeman. A child steals the gun and uses it to kill his father, and Joey must act to save his reputation by finding both the gun and the kid. Vera Farmiga and Chazz Palminteri are hot on Joey’s tail, and things get darker when Joey’s mark falls into the hands of child-pornographers.  Violent, seedy but pulsing with low-rent energy, Kramer seems to relish taking his story over-the-top, and Running Scared has a weird hallucinatory energy, right down to the animated credits at the end. And although he wasn’t first choice for the role of Joey, Walker does his usual accomplished leading man thing; in a short career, Running Scared is probably his best work outside the Fast and Furious films. An unrecognised gem of a thriller.

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Road Kill 2001 ***

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Also known as Joy Ride, Road Kill was one of a series of films that brought Fast and Furious star Paul Walker to the public’s attention before his tragic death in 2013. Walker plays Lewis Thomas, who joins his brother Fuller (Steve Zahn) is a cross country trip accompanied by Venna (Leelee Sobieski). Last Seduction director John Dahl, working from a script by JJ Abrams and Clay Tarver, start horsing around with a unseen trucker on the CB radio, only to find themselves targeted by him as potential victims. Similarities between Dahl’s tight little film and TV movie Duel are most likely deliberate, and the cast do a good job of conveying the terror of ordinary people who find themselves hunted by a seemingly unstoppable predator.