1991, US, Directed by Geoff Burrowes
Colour, Running Time: 88 minutes
Review Source: DVD, R2, Buena Vista; Video: Anamorphic 1.85:1, Audio: DD Surround
Cocky college boy Charlie Farrow seems to know no bounds when it comes to good luck, but he’s blissfully unaware that fate is about to redress the balance somewhat. While helping out one of his side-job bosses he’s offered the overnight task of dropping off someone’s flashy Porsche to Atlantic City, yet another seemingly fortunate occurrence in Charlie’s life as he takes his $200 and speeds down the sunlit highway in style. Then the Porsche conks out (aha, that’s why I opted for a Fiesta instead) and Charlie is forced to have it dropped off at a local garage while he checks out his new and unfamiliar vicinity. Directed to an underground casino by a feisty taxi driver, Charlie doesn’t see any problems in store because he’s already proven himself a dab hand at poker with fellow less fortunate students. So he starts winning quite a stash of cash for himself while flirting with table host Karen Landers, generally having a good time, but one of his opponents is not so happy that some arrogant kid is beating him at his own game and becomes increasingly aggressive throughout the course of the session. In an ensuing struggle the man hits his head and kills himself, everyone standing around in shock (not least Charlie). What’s worse is the dead man is actually the son of the mob boss who owns the casino, and the sudden acknowledgement of negative attention forces Charlie to make a quick escape. With half of the mob after him the lad realises that he can’t even turn to the police, as it seems corruption has infected the force too and even the cops are keen to bring Charlie in to the mob man who has offered $50K for the kid alive.
I tend to enjoy ‘real bad day’ movies like After Hours, Final Jeopardy and this film - it sort of puts my own measly problems into acceptable perspective while providing general bad luck scenarios that I seem to be able to identify with. After the initial set-up the majority of the remainder of an admittedly fairly thin plot features Charlie (Patrick Dempsey) desperately scrambling to escape the numerous immoral individuals who are out for his blood, despite the fact that he voluntarily did nothing to directly cause the mobster’s son’s death. The targeted chap turns to a number of apparently law-abiding individuals during the chase, some of whom turn out to be untrustworthy themselves or who are simply too scared to help him out, despite his dire circumstances. One of the people he accidentally encounters is Landers (Kelly Preston), the girl who dealt his cards at the poker table. On the surface she appears to be like everyone else in the town; criminal or frightened. At some point Charlie’s charms win her over and she tries to assist him in his plight. The nightmare that grows around him is quite thrilling and the gripping nature of the story is largely attributable to Dempsey’s performance - he portrays sheer confused panic incredibly convincingly, proficiently going from smiley faced student to a man on the brink of desperation. His reactions to the endless bad guys closing in on him are absolutely frantic, and he has ample opportunity to demonstrate incredible agility in the process - the guy is magnificently athletic as he falls and charges about each location in anxious bid to preserve his own life. The second factor that supports the success of the film is its sharp editing and acutely delineated pace. Probably as an extension of this, the conclusion does seem partly rushed, not wrapping up the plot in a manner which would be considered best by most viewers. I don’t think Run is a supremely popular movie but it is something that slipped under the radar, I suspect missing an appropriate target audience in the process. It’s a small piece of work in some respects and fairly undemanding, but it remains consistently exciting and worth the hour and a half investment.
I’ve seen Run a couple of times on TV and it’s nice to enjoy how well it’s been presented on DVD, at least visually. Sonically it could have been upgraded with a 5.1 track (only stereo surround here), though with the added bang of a good amplifier it can sound alright. Alas there is nothing else that can be commented on with this skeleton disc, however we should be grateful that a small movie like this is even legitimately available in a widescreen format with such a nice image.