Directed by Peter Hyams, 1986’s Running Scared is the story of two Chicago southside police detectives, Ray Hughes (Gregory Hines) and Danny Costanzo (Billy Crystal). They tend to bend the rules a bit, but get the job done. They’re out to put away Julio Gonzalez (Jimmy Smits) a rising drug dealer determined to become the first Hispanic to take over the city’s underground cocaine trade. They manage to bust him, but in the process screw up a sting operation that a pair of other cops in their district have been working on for a long time. Put on paid leave, they decide to take a vacation in Key West, Florida, during which they decide to quit the police force and buy a bar. Returning to Chicago, they put in 30-days’ notice only to learn that Gonzales has been released and is back to his drug dealing ways. Naturally, Ray and Danny’s last days on the force are spent trying to track down

Running Scared is a prime example of the buddy cop films that proved popular during the 1980’s, mixing comedy and deadly force with equal proportions. Comedically, the banter between Hines and Crystal is natural and funny, as the two were given the freedom to ad-lib as needed. Their antics keep them in perpetual hot water with their boss (Dan Hedaya) who despite it all, trusts Ray and Danny enough to train a couple of new detectives as only they can.

The action isn’t as memorable as the comedy, but there are a couple of impressive bits, including a car chase on the train tracks of the L. The end has plenty of gun power and broken glass. Even so, Running Scared is squarely aimed for the buddy action-comedy crowd. If you’re a fan of Lethal Weapon, Midnight Run, Stakeout and its ilk, then Running Scared is well worth a look.

A reissue of Kino’s 2014 release, Running Scared is presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio and taken from a new 2014 transfer. Colors appear slightly washed out, but that was likely a choice of director Peter Hyams who also served as director of photography as things are much brighter during the scenes in Key West. Blacks are deep and inky with minimal crushing. Detail is strong throughout. A nice level of grain gives things a filmic appearance.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo surround is a good representation of the film’s original Dolby Stereo theatrical track. dialogue is largely directed toward the center channel. The results are clean, clear and concise. Surrounds are largely used for ambience. The results are pleasing for a 1980’s comedy.

English SDH subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Peter Hyams
  • Featurette (480i; 6:39)
  • Billy Crystal Outtakes (480i; 4:35)
  • Selected EPK Scenes (480i; 6:12)
  • Trailer (480i; 1:30)
Running Scared (1986)
3.5 Reviewer