Monday, December 2, 2013
JohnnyTwoToes pays tribute to Paul Walker and reviews his very best!
By now, most of the world knows of the tragic death of actor Paul Walker (Sept 12, 1973 - Nov 30, 2013) and his friend Roger Rodas on Saturday in Valencia, California as a result of a horrific car crash. The two had just left a fundraiser for Mr. Walker's charity that was assisting people all over the world who had been the victims of natural disasters. The organization is called Reach Out Worldwide if you are interested in contacting them.
Walker had been friends with Rodas for the last ten years and Rodas owned a car company called Always Evolving which dealt with high end car mechanics and such. What I heard from a lot of people over the years was that Paul Walker was not a good actor. I have had many fierce disagreements with people who know films and they maintain although he was in some good films, he was very limited in any range and did not have much to go one with what he DID have. Now that he is gone all I hear is how The Fast and the Furious franchise will not be the same without him.
I have maintained and will always maintain that Paul Walker was a great actor and aside from his movie star good looks he was a rare breed in Hollywood. A man, who over the years became spiritual, thought of his fellow man as equals and did immeasurable good for thousands of nameless faces marred by natural disasters. So when people ask me what was my favorite Paul Walker film The Fast and the Furious franchise, as good as it has been, is not it. 2006's Running Scared (not to be confused with the buddy comedy of the same name from 1987 with Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines) was written and directed by Wayne Kramer and it is such a great film that I found it to be the best film of 2006 and Paul Walker's finest performance.
Running Scared stars Walker as Joey Gazelle, a low level member of the local mob whose sole purpose is to dispose of guns used by his cohorts in crimes so the guns can't be tied to the criminals who used them. When one of the guns turns up missing Gazelle frantically tries to find it before it falls into the cops hands. One of the people that might know where the gun is, is a local boy who is friends with Gazelle's son. Once the cat is out of the bag, so to speak , there is nowhere to hide for Joey and his family, until he makes things right.
Kramer's script is based on the graphic novel and this film has packed EVERYTHING into it. There were twists and turns I never saw coming and Vera Farmiga who plays Joey's wife is a revelation. Strong and sexy, she is the best thing to happen to Joey, ever. But this is Walker's movie. His acting his a tour de force. Frantically searching, Walker's Gazelle is smart and knows how to play both sides against the middle and Kramer's script is deliciously saucy and profane as Gazelle has to stay one step ahead of the good cops, the corrupt cops and his own criminal family, all of whom are gunning for Gazelle, they just don't know it.......yet.
Walker is solid in this film from start to finish and his range goes from lovable father and husband to a cold, calculating criminal trying to survive. It is a star making performance but because of the lurid subject matter the film did not do much business and kind of went unnoticed. However, Kramer's film is a masterpiece! A perfectly constructed thriller that literally throws so many plot twists you will never see them coming and it respects the intelligence to follow the plot lines never talks down to the audience.
Running Scared is not family viewing for its subject matter but it is a sharp, crisp and electrifying thriller and a true showcase for the acting of Paul Walker, in particular. Walker went on to work with Kramer in 2013's Pawn Shop Chronicles. I have not seen it but intend to and have heard it is a wild ride, as well.
Paul Walker was taken too early for people to really enjoy what he could do in front of the camera. But one thing is for sure, when I think of Paul Walker's best films, Running Scared is at the top of my list. As for the latest The Fast and the Furious film which was scheduled to be released in July of 2014, there is no word on what and how will affect the film. Obviously, with Paul Walker gone that definitely will effect the film, but in which is unsure. The makers and the studio have already invested tens of millions of dollars into the 7th film and so it is too late to turn back now. Paul Walker would not have wanted that, anyway. The filmmakers will figure it out somehow, and hopefully it will be a fitting tribute to a fine actor taken too early. The show must go on. Running Scared-**** out of 4