'Run' goes nowhere with film-noir conceit

February 01, 1991|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic


Starring Patrick Dempsey.

Directed by Geoff Burrowes.

Released by Hollywood Films (Disney).

Rated R.


"Run" is on a treadmill. It sweats but it goes nowhere.

It takes off from what might be called a film-noir conceit: the innocent man who, by a trick of fate, suddenly and inexplicably finds himself the object of a gigantic manhunt. But this is strictly junior-high film noir: It's so completely without subtext, nuance, depth or resonance that it could be etched on Tupperware as easily as photographed.

Patrick Dempsey plays a cocksure Harvard law student who doubles as a Porsche mechanic; when the car he's transporting to Atlantic City develops engine trouble, he pulls into a mid-sized city in what I believe is Connecticut. Quickly, he is led to the local gambling casino and, being a lucky as well as a plucky lad, manages to win $1,200 at poker, infuriating the casino owner's son. When this lout assaults Dempsey, Dempsey stands aside and the son manages to kill himself accidentally. The casino owner, who also "owns" the town, decides to kill Dempsey in retribution. And this is the first seven minutes!

From that point on the movie, to echo a description that Hemingway once applied to a horse, is nothing but run. Dempsey runs. And runs. And runs. Through the gambling casino. A bowling alley. Streets and paths. A shopping mall. A hospital. And finally "gangster headquarters," which appears to ZTC be a high-rise located next to a greyhound track, where director Geoff Burrowes indulges in some lumpen irony by allowing the track's mechanical rabbit -- get it? -- to kill gambling kingpin and head goon Ken Pogue.

Dempsey, as I say, is awful -- smirky, shallow, simpering -- but no less awful than anybody else in the film.

It's not merely that each of the actors overacts, although each does; it's that there are no characters at all in the movie and so the brazen, bloated performances are unrooted in anything except vanity.

The movie is all kinetics: movement accelerating toward disintegration. In fact the only amusement in "Run" comes from visualizing the faces of the art house zealots who show up at the theater expecting to see Kurosawa's "Ran."

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