‘Run!’ Review: An Uninspired Tarantino Homage That Lacks an Identity of Its Own

Run!
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I’m a big fan of Quentin Tarantino. While I don’t always agree with his hot takes, I appreciate his visual style and the way the director consistently riffs on the exploitation output of years past. The trailer for Run! gives major Kill Bill vibes, which made me curious to see what writer/directors Bill Brennenstuhl and Paul Stenerson had in store. Though there are moments where the film almost seems like it’s going to work, the entire ordeal is overshadowed by a style-over-substance approach and a screenplay in need of an overhaul.    

In Run!, a husband (Jeremy Miller) and wife (Alena von Stroheim) return to a small desert town to renew their wedding vows. After the ceremony, the lovers are abducted by an antagonistic type who puts them through a series of trials and tribulations that culminate in a lackluster conclusion guaranteed to leave a bad taste in your mouth.  

Similar to Kill Bill, the wedding sequence here sets up the central conflict and informs the direction the rest of the film will take. This time it’s the groom that’s settling a score. But the influence is nonetheless obvious. The groom is even decked out in yellow and black from head to toe, much like The Bride in Kill Bill. The similarities continue when the groom, known only as ‘Runner,’ wakes up buried in the desert. Tarantino was paying tribute to the unnamed hero trope popularized by exploitation cinema when he introduced Beatrix Kiddo as ‘The Bride’. But Stenerson and Brennenstuhl are paying tribute to Tarantino. So, it’s like an homage to an homage. At that point, the reference feels convoluted.  

Also Read: ‘Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever’ Review: Unnecessary And Predictable

Unlike Tarantino’s homages, the tributes here are unsubtle and uninspired. Tarantino brings a level of genius to his work that builds upon the property to which he’s paying tribute, and then carves out his own path. In the process, the director often elevates the material by which he is inspired. In the case of Run!, there is no such distinction.  

Presumably also intended as an homage to Tarantino, the film makes use of a nonlinear timeline. Tarantino certainly wasn’t the first to do so, but he is well-known for that approach, and the filmmakers behind Run! seem keen to use his cinematic output as a blueprint. The problem is that everything makes sense at the end of a Tarantino picture and the fragmented timeline serves a greater purpose. Here, the nonlinear approach doesn’t do much to enhance the film. It protects what some might consider a twist of sorts. But the details that eventually come into focus aren’t all that revelatory.  

Another major issue with Run! is the fact that the villain doesn’t have a clear motive. Worse yet, the antagonist isn’t stoic about their lack of rhyme or reason. Learning why the bad guy has set this series of events in motion is anticlimactic. The buildup seems to suggest there’s a grand design to what’s happening, but there really isn’t. I felt cheated when all was said and done. There’s a hollowness to the proceedings that I hoped would be offset by ‘the why’ behind it all. But there really is no why. 

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If the antagonist had been stoic and silent, the relative absence of motivation might have worked more effectively. But we are forced to sit through a grandiose speech about what drives this individual, only to learn that next to nothing drives them. The titular characters in The Strangers don’t have an elaborate motive for their crimes. But they don’t force the viewer to listen to endless ranting, dispensing with any mystique in the process. An antagonist without a clear modus operandi works far more effectively when they simply keep their mouth shut. A villain who gives a long-winded speech while saying nothing at all is doing little more than wasting the viewer’s time.  

Further complicating matters, the script is rough. The dialogue is often very unnatural. Though the filmmakers shoot for a moody and atmospheric vibe, stilted exchanges serve to kill the mood almost immediately. Additionally, narrative developments frequently come across as unnatural and as if they are transpiring to move the story along, not because they make any real sense. 

The acting is also a bit challenging. The bride and groom never reach the point of being convincing as a couple madly in love, but they at least manage to not be distracting. I can’t say the same of the villain, who I will leave uncredited to avoid spoiling anything. But suffice to say that the bad guy doesn’t do the film any favors. 

All things considered, I can’t recommend Run! There were times when I almost found myself enjoying the action sequences. But the flaws are so persistent that any enjoyment was short-lived. If you are curious to check the flick out for yourself, you can scope Run! on Digital and On Demand now. 

  • ‘Run!’
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Summary

‘Run!’ is tedious and uninspired.

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