Tuesday, 20 December 2016

BITE-SIZED REVIEW: Run (Geoff Burrowes, 1991)

We all have that one movie that we remember seeing on TV when we were little, and for whatever reason it stuck with you. For me, that movie is Run

Run is a 1991 thriller starring Patrick Dempsey and John Travolta's wife, Kelly Preston.

Dempsey plays law student Charlie Farrow. Charlie is a bit of a wise-ass, who likes gambling and fast cars. Unlike his rich friends, Charlie has to work as a part-time mechanic to keep himself afloat. When his boss offers him $200 (remember, 1991) to deliver a red Porsche to a client in Atlantic City, he jumps at the chance. 

Charlie's weekend adventure soon goes sour. First, the car breaks down and he has to pay for it to be fixed. And then things get even worse.

Charlie winds up at an illegal casino where he ends up in a high stakes poker game against a psycho, Denny Halloran. When Charlie keeps winning, Denny grows exponentially more violent and focused on beating him.

Taking a chance when Denny leaves to get more chips, Charlie tries to make an escape. Denny blocks his exit and attacks him. When Charlie dodges out of his charge, Denny trips, cracks his head on a counter and dies.

It turns out that Denny's father owns the casino, and through bribery and intimidation, the whole town. Soon, Charlie is a wanted man, with Halloran's goons and bent cops after his blood.

Run is not a perfect movie. While he is okay in the lead, Dempsey comes across as too much of a preening jackass to be entirely sympathetic. While the intention is clearly to knock Charlie off his pedestal and make him more humble, the transition is not implemented consistently. There are quite a few moments where the filmmakers forget the character and have Charlie throw out some action movie-style one liners. While there are only a few instances of this, they don't sit well with the movie's tone.

These few digressions aside, the movie is a pretty solid thriller. From the moment Denny dies, to the final showdown with his father, the movie's pace never flags and the set pieces -- while simple -- are well handled. The one dead spot is the relationship with Kelly Preston's character. She plays a world-weary dealer at the casino who witnessed Denny's death and gets roped in to Charlie's dilemma. Dempsey and Preston do not gel, and it is something of a relief that the filmmakers do not try to force a romance between them -- there's an attempt at flirtation, but Dempsey just comes off as a randy teenager hitting on a mature woman with better things to do.

The movie's main problem may be miscasting. While watching this movie I couldn't help imagining a remake of this with Shia LaBeouf circa-Disturbia. Heck, Dempsey now would be a better lead. He just comes off as too young and cocksure to be sympathetic.

In the end, Run is pretty good flick. I beat on him a bit, but Dempsey is fine as long as the filmmakers are not trying to make him likeable. The movie is at its best when it lives up to its title, which it does 75% of the runtime. Worth a look.

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