Children are impressionable, susceptible to influence, easy to manipulate. I have witnessed a gang of 10-to-14-year-olds mercilessly attack and rob a couple in a Russian subway. Without parental guidance, left to their own devices, those young, lost souls roam the streets, following their worst impulses. It doesn’t just happen in Russia, of course – it’s a sad reality in most countries. A cinematic treatise on the genesis of said reality, a heartfelt and visceral study of these children through the eyes of a compelling protagonist, would undoubtedly be welcome. On all accounts, filmmaker John Swab’s gratuitous and grave Run with the Hunted fails to live up to the promise of its premise. Instead, it comes off as a lunkheaded exercise in self-aggrandizing mental masturbation.
Young Oscar (Mitchell Paulsen) lives happily under the tutelage of his father Augustus (William Forsythe). Oscar simply cannot stand the abuse that his friend Loux (Madilyn Kellam) takes from her dad, so one night, Oscar kills the sad hick with a searing-hot fireplace poker. The boy runs off to the Big City and soon gets locked up. (Un)luckily for him, Peaches (Kylie Rogers) introduces Oscar to her “family of broken toys:” a group of abandoned children who roam the streets, thieving and mugging for their “masters,” Sway (Mark Boone Junior) and “big poppa” Birdie (Ron Perlman). “What we provide here is an education, a way of life… and me, I’m the headmaster,” Sway says of his band of tiny Robin Hood-wannabes.
“…a group of abandoned children who roam the streets, thieving and mugging for their ‘masters’…”
“I believe, someday, Loux will find you,” Peaches tells Oscar before kissing him at a drive-in theater, “but for now, you have me.” After a horrifying incident involving Peaches and a shotgun, the film cuts to fifteen years later. The grown-up Oscar (Michael Pitt), now trains his own group of young thugs with the mantra of “Lost boys till the end.” Birdie asks Peaches (Dree Hemingway) to look after Oscar, who may be straying off his beaten path, seeking a way out. And then there’s the Loux (Sam Quartin), who takes up a job as a detective’s (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) assistant, to find her lost boy.
“Why did you kill me?” a character screams hilariously during the film’s rushed, silly conclusion. In another unintentionally amusing shot, a woman at the hairdresser’s is reading a copy of Microwave Dishes magazine (wtf?). Characters keep asking each other if they “understand what I’m sayin'” or if they’re “pickin’ up what I’m putting down?” Run with the Hunted would be a laugh riot if it weren’t so damn serious.
"…would be a laugh riot if it weren't so damn serious."