Peter’s Retro Reviews: Running Scared (1986)

August 11, 2011

Running Scared (1986) Movie posterby Peter Nielsen

I must admit that I had totally forgotten how friggin’ awesome this movie is. I’ve seen it a couple of times before, but it must be at least 15 years since the last time, so I was very pleasantly surprised. If you want to watch a superb buddy cop movie with a well-balanced blend of action and comedy, this is it! Stop looking!

One of the big reasons it works so well are the two cops themselves. Ray Hughes and Danny Costanzo, played by Gregory Hines (Saigon, White Nights, The Cotton Club) and Billy Crystal (When Harry met Sally, City Slickers 1 & 2, Throw Momma from the Train). They have a chemistry between them, that makes you believe they’ve worked together for many years. They’re not only partners, but also very good friends. They know that in any given situation, they’ve got each-others back. They joke around a lot, but it’s all down to efficiency when need be. They’re very good at what they do, some might call them reckless, but they do get the job done.

Working their pants off...

Working their pants off…

Danny is divorced from the lovely Anna, played by Darlanne Fluegel (Once Upon A Time In America, To Live and Die in L.A.), but it’s clear that they still love each other. She just had a hard time with him being a cop and not knowing if he’d survive the day.

As I said before, they do take a lot of chances. Danny is obviously hurt when she tells him she’s getting married again, but doesn’t want her to know that, so he kind of jokes about the other guy being a “boring” dentist.

Anyway… they’re after a gangster named Julio Gonzales, played by Jimmy Smits, whom I’ll bet you recognize from two highly successful TV-shows, namely L.A. Law and NYPD Blue. After Danny and Ray are almost killed in a bust gone wrong, their captain puts them on a “forced” vacation. Captain Logan is played by the wonderful Dan Hedaya from The Usual Suspects, Commando and Wise Guys, to name a few.

They go to Key West, Florida, which is a big change from the cold and windy Chicago they’re used to. They relax, go roller-skating and actually manage to wind down and discover another life besides being cops. After Danny promises Ray that they’ll get robbed a lot, they decide to retire and buy a bar.

Ray & Danny on vacation.

Ray & Danny on vacation.

Upon returning, they find out that Julio is free and back on the streets. The captain won’t let them go after him alone, so he assigns two undercover cops, Frank and Tony, to them, so they can teach them about their turf, so to speak. Danny and Ray don’t want to teach them, as they feel that they’re the ones who almost got them killed and Frank and Tony don’t want to be taught ‘cause they don’t feel that the others can teach them anything useful. Let the banter begin!

Frank and Tony are played by Steven Bauer (Gleaming the Cube, Scarface) and Jon Gries (Men in Black, Fright Night Part 2). They’re the kind of actors who’s been in a ton of stuff and you recognize them, but never seem to be able to come up with a title. The same goes for Larry Hankin who has a small role as the police-cruiser mechanic. He was also in Planes, Trains and Automobiles and he played the downstairs neighbor, Mr. Heckles, in the hit TV-show FRIENDS.

I like what you've done to your hair Snake.

I like what you’ve done to your hair Snake.

I must also mention Joe Pantoliano here. Matrix, Bad Boys or Baby’s Day Out, anyone? Mr. Pantoliano plays a rather big part as Snake in this. The loveable small-time crook with the weird hairdo. Oh, the amount of verbal abuse Snake takes from Danny and Ray… Almost every scene with him in it is funny, but the police lineup one is hilarious. As I stated earlier, there’s a very good balance between the action and the humor in Running Scared that works extremely well.

Ok, back to Julio Gonzales! The drug-lord is expecting a large shipment, but following a tip, our friendly neighborhood police-force intervenes and seizes the drugs. They also impound his Mercedes and more or less irritate the crap out of him. All this is done to lure him into making a move, so they can bust him for good. Well… they succeed in making him mad! And desperate! In order to get his drugs back he kidnaps Anna and now shit gets really serious and personal, cuz Danny and Ray are NOT taking THIS matter lightly…

1986! Running Scared! Action-comedy at its best! Please watch immediately!

Until next time, my friends…

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