Every week or so I spend too much time scrolling through the new movies that show up on Netflix Instant. There’s usually a new release or two of interest and then any number of weird other selections I find myself wondering about. Run, or Street Run as it was apparently called overseas, had me with one work: parkour.
I’ve been fascinated by parkour or free-running since grade school when my pal Jimmy said he saw something on MTV about this thing called freestyle walking. We never tried anything too crazy like the flips and tricks you see in YouTube clips or movies like District B-13, but we had some goofy fun with it now and again. Years later I found out more about how crazy and intense parkour could be. It fits right in with my love of watching over-the-top dance movies or even the Olympics where I enjoy seeing people taking control of their bodies and doing things I’d wind up in a hospital for just thinking about too long.
So, as you can imagine, when I read about this movie about a parkour criminal kid starring Adrian Pasdar from Heroes and Eric Roberts from The Expendables, I was pretty easily sold. To elaborate a bit on the plot, Pasdar plays the father of William Moseley’s character, a high schooler who uses his free running abilities to steal for them because dear old dad keeps them nomadic. After screwing up a job, Pasdar decides to move them back to New York City so he can settle an old score with Roberts who plays a mob boss. While there, Moseley makes friends with a crew of kids who also happen to know parkour and he winds up falling for the main kid’s sister. There’s even talk of a parkour competition which really made me think this was going to turn into the free running version of Step Up or whathaveyou, but that was not to be.
I actually really enjoyed this film. During the day, the shots look pretty fantastic. At night the obvious digital photography gets a little grainy which is too bad, but I’m guessing director Simone Bartesaghi didn’t have mountains of money to play with. Still, I thought they did a lot with what they did have which includes a cast that did a pretty solid job of being both highly athletic and believable. Sure, some of them are a bit wooden, but I’ll trade that for actually seeing an actor’s face when he or she is doing crazy flippies. I also enjoyed the story which had classic crime and sins-of-the-father motifs along with some solid high school romance/friendship stuff. All of this lead to one of my favorite moments in the movie when the high school parkour kids explain Bruce Lee’s “Be like water” philosophy which probably isn’t in a ton of high school movies these days.
But Run isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There’s a huge pacing problem during most of the chase scenes which make up most of the action (hence the We Want Action header as opposed to Friday Fisticuffs). It seems like from watching the opening scene that initially shows off Moseley’s character’s skills that he should have easily ditched the cops who were chasing him and yet they were constantly on his tail. There’s also the matter of style over substance. I get that parkour’s about expressing yourself through physicality which is awesome, but when you’re using it to go save a kidnapped family member or two, maybe don’t spent so much time hopping over barrels and whatnot. As a whole, shoehorning free running into activities like dates and whatnot might come off as corny, but I guess I’m just a hopeless romantic because I was cool with it.
And then there’s the soundtrack. A year ago I didn’t understand what dub step was (it’s basically electronica/techno, but more annoying). Now I do and I’m old-man-sick-of-it. It’s not super-overwhelming in Run, but it is there and it will date this movie like crazy which is too bad because overall it’s fairly timeless.
I love being surprised by a movie I find on Netflix. Like I said when I wrote about Drinking Buddies, this is like heading to the video store, grabbing a tape I’d never heard of and being pleasantly surprised. I mean, this isn’t like when I randomly discovered The Warriors, but it was still a fun way to spend 90 minutes.