The world of Parkour (otherwise known as freerunning) – the no-holds-barred high-flying sport of physical graffiti where athletically gifted individuals springboard off benches and ricochet off rooftops in an awe-inspiring form of urban gymnastics – seems to lend itself naturally to the format of 3D filmmaking.
And despite a noticeable motion blur in certain sequences, which can perhaps be attributed to visual effects since this title was screened on a 240hz fast-motion friendly 3D environment, Run doesn’t disappoint in its Parkour translation to 3D.
Yet at the same time as a Parkour film, let alone a sports movie – it’s unfortunately nowhere near as fast-paced, dynamic or exciting as the first film that introduced me to the sport via 2011’s Most Dangerous Game-inspired Freerunner.
For what Lawrence Silverstein’s admittedly weak film lacked in the development of its characters, it made up for in Parkour spectacle – exceeding its cheesy limitations and expectations due to the life and death stakes of the plotline and sports-film emphasis on what the human body is capable of as embodied by some of the world’s top freerunners.
While Parkour hasn’t yet had the ideal onscreen representation that it so richly deserves as a physical artform that combines the grace of dance, precision of gymnastics and fluidity of martial arts, viewers can still applaud these two very different features that take two drastically different approaches to the exact same subject.
Whereas Freerunner was more visceral and action-packed, Run is (at least at first) more poetic and character driven– beginning with a beautifully written voice-over narrative that introduces us to the main characters from the point-of-view of sixteen-year-old Daniel (William Moseley).
Living a life on the run with his father Mike (Adrian Pasdar), Daniel makes ends meet using his natural gifts as a rooftop gymnast to hit jewelry stores and pawn shops before returning with the wares for his father to fence. Never staying in one place too long – once the cops get too close or neighbors get suspicious, the family of two hit the road in a life of constant motion.
Not minding the way he earns a living in the slightest – as mentally we’re left to assume that he must liken himself to the hero of the antique-looking copy of Robin Hood he carries around with him, Daniel uses the book to store the sole photo he has of his mother and takes his treasured possessions from one place to the next.
Having run out of places to run, shortly into Run, Daniel and his father decide to return to the city they’ve been running from by moving back to New York where his father is eager to arrange a truce with Jeremiah, the gangster who wants him dead.
Played by the ever-typecast Eric Roberts, Jeremiah holds Mike responsible for the death of his beloved sister who fell in love with Mike and died giving birth to the freerunning nephew that he knows nothing about.
Having tried to hide Daniel’s existence from his powerful uncle, Mike knows it’s only a matter of time before the gangsters learn the truth.
And although the duo have a code for the way they live their life, Daniel’s allegiance to his father’s rules is tested when he unexpectedly finds a friend in the form of a fellow freerunner who introduces him to his beautiful sister in addition to the Parkour world he knew nothing about.
While the dialogue is pretty weak and bogged down by an overabundance of clichés, Run’s biggest disappointment lies in how many – or rather how very few – scenes of freerunning are worked into the uninspired storyline.
Ignoring the prospect of what might have been a far better payoff for the subject matter involving a Parkour contest that’s mentioned and then immediately discarded, Run instead takes a gangster B-movie shortcut in its final act.
Settling for an inevitable showdown between the freerunners and Jerimiah’s goons that once again suffers from poor Parkour choreography, Daniel and his new buddy put their skills to the test in order to rescue their loved ones from the clutches of stereotypical movie thugs.
Though disappointing on the whole, Run’s writer/director Simone Bartesaghi shows true promise by way of film’s impressive set-up from its killer blend of action driven humor in the opening credit sequence with poetically written narration. Unfortunately I just wish he would’ve spent as much time perfecting the rest of the script so that it would match the impact of that meticulously crafted opener.
For while the first act teases us into assuming we’re going to see an artier approach to Parkour (that just might work in the Robin Hood plotline in its coming-of-age tale), Run can’t sustain its momentum throughout the film’s ninety minute running time, nor does it ever make its mind up with regard to which story it wants to tell.
A mashup of many movies from its introduction of various elements that could potentially lead us down many different paths from the contest to a new love interest to the issue of theft and more, Run has a lot of ideas but loses the interest of the audience by not fully investing itself in one for more than a scene or two. As such, the ambitious Run never does live up to its full potential in its story of a teen who’d much rather catapult himself across a gymnasium than cross state lines as a fugitive on the run.
With this in mind, even though it features a 2D as well as a 3D version of the film on the same high-definition 1080p Blu-ray disc, given how quickly you’re bound to forget it after it ends, any staying power Run might have is dependent upon viewing it in 3D.
While true adrenaline junkies will probably find their appetite for physical graffiti better satisfied with 2011’s 2D Freerunner, Parkour enthusiasts will still want to give Run a spin since so few representations of what they do have made their way to the silver screen.
Let’s just hope the next high-flying Parkour movie will learn from the strengths and weaknesses of earlier efforts to offer film fans a film that's truly worth roof-jumping about.
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