Running Time: 70 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Format: Standard 4:3
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Languages: English
Subtitles: None
Region: 1
MSRP: $19.98

Own It!
Running Time (1999)

Have you ever seen a film you really struggled to like more? One that tried so hard you wanted to give it sort of an ‘A’ for Effort? That’s how I felt about Running Time. Please note that I’m not calling it a bad film. I liked it; I just wish I loved it. (Others are rather more enthusiastic. See the reviews on the Internet Movie Database.)

On the plus side, Running Time is short, running a lean seventy minutes. Moreover, it sports a meaty lead role for cult actor Bruce Campbell. The film begins with Campbell getting out of prison and immediately moving on to a heist. Things then go predictably awry.

The real problem, for me, anyway, is that the picture plays more like an experiment with form than an organic film. Shot in black & white, events take place in ‘real time.’ In other words, the film lasts 70 minutes and covers a time period of the same length. In addition, it’s composed to look like it was shot in one long, continuous take. This is all very impressive. Still, for me personally it seemed like one too many gimmicks piled atop each other. Add in the fact that the script often plays like yet another Reservoir Dogs knock-off and ultimately I would never become fully satisfied with it.

Running Time looks more or less pristine, although the black & white photography isn’t utilized for any real artistic effect. (In fact, it was a technical decision. Color scenes shot outside use a filter; interiors don’t. Since the movie is meant to look like it contains no edits, black & white film was used to more seamlessly move between indoor and outdoor sequences.) The sound is also quite clean, free of hissing or such.

Aside from the obligatory trailer, we get a nice commentary track with director/screenwriter Josh Becker and Bruce Campbell. Campbell is known for his enjoyable commentaries – see the ones he did for the three Evil Dead movies -- and he doesn’t disappoint here. (If getting him to star in your movie guarantees him providing a commentary track as well, it’s a doubly good investment.) Campbell often takes the role of interviewer towards Becker, as if trying to help the novice through this. All in all it’s an enjoyable look at how assembling such a technically experimental film worked.

Ken Begg, 3/1/2001