Sneak peek will have you “Running Scared” to theaters

Jackie Lebowitz

Blonde-haired, blue-eyed native Californian Paul Walker sheds his pretty boy image in “Running Scared” for a hardened, blood-spattered look as he becomes mob henchman, Joey Gazelle.

Directed by Wayne Kramer (“The Cooler”), the movie also stars Vera Farmiga (“The Manchurian Candidate”) as Teresa Gazelle, Joey’s wife, and Chazz Palminteri (“The Usual Suspects”) as Detective Rydell.

Shot in none other than New Jersey, home of the “Sopranos,” “Running Scared” is a fast-paced, action-filled thriller that never decelerates from advancing full throttle, a pace established from the opening scene.

Everything in this movie is intense, and there are virtually no scenes to allow the audience any sort of relief from heart-pounding action.

When Joey Gazelle discovers that the hot gun he was supposed to get rid of is missing, he begins a frantic search for his piece and the person who stole it.

Following a trail of bullets, just as Hansel and Gretel followed breadcrumbs into the dark forest, the details become more and more complicated as Gazelle races closer and closer towards the answer.

But this is certainly no children’s bedtime story.

In addition to bloody fighting scenes, the movie also includes almost every other type of vice that Gazelle encounters on his way to retrieve his gun: child pornography, prostitution, dirty cops and drugs.

While this overview may seem simple initially, there is nothing about this movie that is clear-cut. Despite all of the violence there is the classic battle between good guy and bad guy. It just takes the length of the movie to figure out which is which. Disclaimer: do not be fooled by appearances.

While people’s appearances may be questionable, there is no question as to the appearance of the special effects. Giving the impression of a film conceived when “The Matrix” meets “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” Kramer’s effects make this movie surpass the competition of other mob-inspired, gun-related movies.

Bullets suspended in the air travel in slow motion, leaving a wake behind them as they fly through the scenes like miniature torpedoes. Other scenes are rewound, mimicking the thought process of Gazelle as he pieces together this increasingly complicated story.

One of the more interesting scenes – both in terms of revealing crucial plot information and creating a unique visual effect – is shot using black light. While some may think that this may tone down the violence and staunch one’s reaction to spurting blood, make no mistake that when Gazelle has pink, glowing hockey pucks drilled at his face, everyone in the audience flinches. (Not only is this gruesome in itself, but it’s Paul Walker’s face … gasp).

The violence, language and sexual content all add up to an R-rated movie that, while intense in all of these areas, is certainly worth seeing in the movie theatres once, if not twice.

Kramer’s screenplay and production allow Walker and the other actors to shine in this stimulating and enthralling movie which offers audiences 122 minutes of unparalleled action and special effects.

The movie opens in theatres Friday, Feb. 24.