Running Scared (2006) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A low-ranking thug is entrusted by his crime boss to dispose of a gun that killed corrupt cops, but things get out of control when the gun ends up in wrong hands.

  • After a drug-op gone bad, Joey Gazelle is put in charge of disposing the gun that shot a dirty cop. But things go wrong for Joey after a neighbor kid stole the gun and used it to shoot his abusive father. Now Joey has to find that kid and the gun before the police and the mob do.

  • Joey Gazelle is a low level mob flanker who gets told to dispose of a gun used for killing some dirty cops. Joey however, hides the gun in the drywall of his basement instead of tossing them in the river. When Joey's 10 year-old son and his best friend, Oleg, witness Joey hiding some guns from a botched drug deal, Oleg steals the gun -- a snub-nosed .38 -- and shoots his abusive stepfather with it. Things would be bad enough if the stepfather didn't happen to be the nephew of a psychotic Russian mob boss... who happens to be in business with Joey's crew on a gasoline scam. But now Joey's also got the surviving dirty cop from the botched drug deal on his case... and that hot .38 out there on the street, changing hands in an underworld of freaks, pimps, hookers and pedophiles. As well as Oleg, who can connect Joey to the gun. And even if Joey can make it through the night, he's still got to answer to his wife...

  • The gangster Joey Gazelle is in charge of getting rid of the guns that killed dirty cops in a transaction of drugs between Italian mobsters and Afro-Americans. However, Joey hides the guns in the basement of his house instead of throwing in the river, and his ten years old son Nicky and his best friend Oleg Yugorsky witness Joey hiding the gun. When Oleg's abusive stepfather Anzor Yugorsky beats his mother Mila, Oleg steals the weapon from the basement and shoots Anzor, running away home with the gun. Along the night, Joey, the Russian and the Italian mobster and the dirty cops chase the little boy trying to retrieve the gun and disclose who ordered the boy to shoot his stepfather.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The movie begins with Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) driving with a boy, Oleg Yugorsky (Cameron Bright). Oleg has a blood stain on his shirt, implying that he had been shot. The movie then flashes back eighteen hours before the unfolding scene. Joey, a low-level mafioso, is attending a drug deal with his boss Tommy (Johnny Messner) and associate Sal when a trio of masked men burst in and try to steal the drugs and money. When Tommy shoots one of the hoods, a shootout commences in which all the drug dealers and two of the hoods are killed, forcing their leader to flee. Tommy then discovers that the men were dirty cops. As the mobsters flee in a panic, Tommy gives the murder weapons to Joey, telling him to get rid of them.

    Rather than dispose of the guns, Joey goes home to his wife Teresa (Vera Farmiga) and son Nicky (Alex Neuberger), and hides the guns in the basement. Unknown to Joey, Nicky and his friend from next door, Oleg, are watching from a hiding place. Oleg goes home to his abusive stepfather Anzor Yugorsky (Karel Roden), the outcast nephew of the Russian mob boss Ivan Yugorsky (John Noble). He runs a meth lab in the back yard. When he once again abuses Oleg's mother Mila (Ivana Milievi), Oleg shoots him with a nickel-plated .38 that he had stolen from Joey's basement. Next door, the Gazelle family is disrupted by the gunshots and Joey rushes next door. He finds Anzor wounded and Oleg gone. When Anzor describes the weapon to Joey, he realizes that Oleg had stolen one of the murder weapons, and rushes out in a frantic search to find Oleg and the gun.

    Oleg runs to a nearby park, where he is caught by a homeless man, who takes his gun and drags him into a public toilet and drug den. Joey and Nicky follow, trying to find him. The criminals shoot each other, alerting Joey and giving Oleg time to escape with the gun. Oleg runs until he finds a pimp named Lester smacking around one of his prostitutes, Divina. When Lester pulls a knife on the prostitute, Oleg pulls his gun on him and pulls the trigger, but the revolver is empty. The pimp threatens to cut the boy but the prostitute knocks Lester unconscious. She prepares to run but notices Oleg coughing. Indebted to him, she takes him to a pharmacy to get him an inhaler. When the pharmacist refuses, she draws the gun and gets the inhaler at gunpoint.

    The surviving dirty cop Rydell (Chazz Palminteri) informs Tommy that Joey has lost the gun, and that it is out on the street in the hands of Oleg. Joey goes to meet the boss of the Italian mob, Frankie Perello (Arthur J. Nascarella) at a diner to say that the gun used to shoot Anzor was not from the shootout with the cops. Frankie says that he wants Oleg found, because Frankie and Yugorsky are working together on a 'gasoline deal', and he wants them to remain in good standing. Outside, Nicky sees Oleg and and the prostitute Divina enter the same diner, and follows them into the restaurant. Oleg finds Nicky in the bathroom and they stash the gun in a toilet tank. Oleg and Joey leave, and Oleg tells his father the gun is stashed in the toilet tank. They return to the restaurant but the gun is not there.

    After Oleg leaves the restaurant and tries to convince Divina to take him with her out of town. The police show up and arrest her and take Oleg with them to the police station. There, the dirty cop, Rydell, interviews Oleg and tries to get him to reveal the location of the gun. The boy lies, and is released into his stepfather's custody.

    At home, Teresa tries to convince Mila to go to a shelter. Mila tells her that she was a prostitute in Moscow who was brought over by Yugorsky. She became pregnant and refused to have an abortion, so Yugorsky sent Anzor to kill her. Instead, he married her in order to give her protection.

    Anzor takes Oleg to an ice cream parlor and attempts to get him to reveal the gun's location. Oleg runs away and hides inside a parked van. The couple who owns the car, Dez (Bruce Altman) and Edele (Elizabeth Mitchell), take him with their two children back to their apartment. They take Oleg to a large playroom filled with various toys and a camera, and Oleg thinks Dez and Edele are acting weird. He complains of an upset stomach and asks to go to the bathroom. Oleg tries to escape the apartment, but instead finds Edele's purse by the door. He takes her cellphone and Edele tells him where the bathroom is. He calls Teresa Gazelle. She tells him to find look in the medicine cabinet for a prescription with an address, and surreal, threatening shadows dance on the wall behind him. She promises to come get him as Dez and Edele begin to try and force their way into the bathroom. They catch Oleg just as he hides the cellphone.

    Teresa drives out to the apartment, breaks glass to get in the front door, and knocks on the door. Edele instructs Dez to take the kids back to the bedroom before emerging in nothing more than a robe. Teresa tells her that Oleg called her from that address. When Edele refuses, Teresa threatens to call the police, and Edele lets her inside. Edele searches the entire apartment, including the bedroom where Edele's "children" are in bed asleep, Teresa cannot find Oleg; but just before she leaves, she suddenly realizes something is odd. She forces herself back in, pointing out that there was not a single photograph of their children in the whole house. Edele insists that they have just moved in and that everything was still in storage. Teresa desperately searches the apartment. Dez nods towards a closet in the playroom, and Teresa finds Oleg tied and gagged with a plastic bag over his head. She holds a gun on the husband and wife as she revives Oleg with CPR. They threaten to call the police and she tells them to go ahead.

    When Oleg revives, Teresa frees him and tells Oleg to get the two other children and wait outside. Dez offers Teresa a hundred thousand dollars in diamonds from their safe if she will just take Oleg and leave. Ignoring him, Teresa looks in the closet and sees children's costumes, plastic body bags, surgical instruments, and shelves of DVD cases with children's names on them. Teresa notices that the playroom floor is completely covered in plastic. Horrified, Teresa demands Dez's phone and calls the police, reporting that she heard gunshots at the apartment's address. She hangs up and shoots Dez and Edele.

    Joey continues to search for the gun, tracking it to the owner of a body shop, only to find out that he sold it to Lester the pimp. Joey takes Oleg with him to go retrieve the gun, but just as Joey sees the pimp with his gun, Tommy and Sal show up. They coerce Joey into following them to an abandoned train yard, and leave Oleg in the car. Tommy threatens to kill Joey for his screw-up but suddenly kills Sal. Tommy explains that Sal had been arrested and had walked by agreeing to become a snitch on his friends. He then calls Rydell who's arrived at the train station to pick up the bag that he thinks contains the gun. Tommy activates a bomb in the bag, killing Rydell.

    Tommy drives Oleg to a hockey rink and Joey follows. They meet the Italian and Russian mob bosses along with Anzor. Mobsters hold Joey down on the ice and Russian hockey players shoot pucks into his face several times. Yugorsky demands that Oleg tell them where he got the gun. When he lies, the boss of the Russian mob orders Anzor to kill Oleg. Joey pleads with Anzor and he hesitates. He finally drops the gun and his uncle shoots him for being weak.

    Joey tells Yugorsky that Frankie had wanted to kill Anzor for cooking meth in the neighborhood, and that the gun was Tommy's. Tommy pulls a gun to kill Joey and a shootout begins between Frankies's mobsters all of the mobsters except Frankie. Frankie kills Yugorsky and walks over to kill Joey. Joey reveals that he is an undercover FBI agent and even his wife doesn't know. Oleg levels a pistol at Frankie, who hesitates long enough for Joey to grab Frankie's shotgun and kill him. As Joey and Oleg leave the hockey rink, the FBI arrive, and an agent explains that they lost his signal in New Jersey.

    Joey takes Oleg out for breakfast, but as they leave, Lester the pimp walks in. Lester threatens Oleg with a knife. Joey intercedes but Lester pulls out the chrome-plated snub nose 38, the one Joey has been looking for. They fight, and Joey kills Lester. Joey and Oleg flee the diner. As in the scene at the beginning of the movie, Joey and Oleg drive away at high speed, both bloodstained. But the blood on Oleg isn't his, it's Joey's, who was wounded by Lester.

    Mila has locked herself in the shed containing the meth lab behind their house. She looks at a picture of Oleg, believing he is dead. She holds a lighter to an open propane tank and blows up the meth lab in her backyard, killing herself. Teresa and Nicky come out of the house to investigate and see Joey weaving down the street, losing consciousness from blood loss. Joey crashes the car and Teresa holds him as he goes limp. Oleg stands in front of his house, watching it burn. Fire trucks arrive.

    Days later,Teresa, Nicky, and Oleg attend Joey's funeral. They leave the city and drive to a small farm house, where Joey's newly repaired Mustang is parked in the driveway. Teresa, sitting on the car's bumper, seemingly talks to herself when she says "Don't ever ask me to bury you again, Joey." Joey emerges from under the car and hugs Nicky and Oleg, who's now part of their family.

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