The plot of Run & Gun is not exactly original. Ray (Ben Milliken, Sonora, the Devil’s Highway, Emerald Run) was a criminal. But he turned his life around and now is a family man who lives a quiet life in the suburbs. But the past never stays buried in a film like this and he’s blackmailed into doing one last job. He’s promptly double-crossed and must fight not only for his own life but for the lives of his loved ones.
While this is the first film as a director for Christopher Borrelli he has several credits as a writer, including The Marine 2, Witches in the Woods, and most recently, the Scott Eastwood film, Dangerous. Can he put together a script that does something new, or at least interesting enough that we don’t care that it’s a cliche, with this plot?
The opening certainly isn’t anything new as we go from Ray surviving an attempt to hang him to the present day where he’s using his criminal knowledge to prove a businessman is making a bogus insurance claim. From killer to corporate asset in the space of a transition.
We soon find out that his long-term girlfriend Faith (Janel Parrish, Pretty Little Liars, Trespassers) wants him to make a commitment. Unfortunately, he’s also been spotted by some of Greyson’s (Richard Kind, Argo, A Bug’s Life) goons. He’s willing not to tell Shoemaker’s (Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez, A Holiday Boyfriend, The Old Ways),. she’s the one who wanted him hung in the first place. As long as he does a favour for him and his brother Brando (Mark Dacascos, Blade of the 47 Ronin, Batman: Soul of the Dragon).
While the first half-hour has a few amusingly quirky moments such as Greyson asking Ray to kill a tree, there’s nothing particularly special going on. Certainly, nothing that will divert your attention from Run & Gun’s lack of running or gunning. Unfortunately after the actual double-cross and a brief chase. Run & Gun quickly goes back to Walk & Talk. Ray finds a place to hide at an abandoned factory, but its watchman Billings (Brad William Henke, The Stand, Split) may not be as friendly as he seems.
Borrelli seems much more interested in creating eccentric characters and offbeat dialogue than staging action setpieces. And that’s a perfectly acceptable way to approach this story. The problem is, Paramount is selling Run & Gun as an action film and the fact that the film has almost reached the one-hour mark by the time we get the first sustained action scene is a major disappointment.
Taken as a thriller rather than an action film Run & Gun fares a bit better. The plot’s beats are still very familiar, and at times obvious. And using the Salton Sea as a location verges on cliche. But some of the film’s odder moments and better bits of dialogue take the edge off of it.
But that’s really all they can do. Run & Gun is never distinctive enough to set itself apart from the horde of DTV thrillers. Its characters aren’t eccentric enough to be memorable. And when the film does start to get interesting it’s due to an extraneous thread that almost entirely derails the film’s main plot. Worst of all not only don’t we get a fight scene between Dacascos and Milliken, Dacascos doesn’t fight at all.
In the end, I find myself once again saying that while Run & Gun isn’t actually bad, it’s not all that good either. It might be amusing if you really want to watch something and there’s nothing else catching your attention. And you really could do a lot worse considering what’s out there. But I can’t recommend it either.
Paramount has released Run & Gun direct-to-VOD and as a 4K Digital purchase. It comes to DVD and streaming on January 25th.