You Can’t Run Forever (2024)

You Can’t Run Forever Review

You Can’t Run Forever

J.K. Simmons is familiar with being a sociopath. This ability of his to transform from an ordinary suburbanite to a complete madman who pulls off the perfect maleficent smile at just the right time, it’s enthralling. He has so much fun in most of “You Can’t Run Forever,” and shooting this movie that was co-written and directed by his wife of nearly 30 years must have made it all the more memorable. Unfortunately, he’s the only one having fun. You won’t be.

To be fair, “You Can’t Run Forever” does start off with quite a bang literally but it’s indicative of the tonal issues that will plague this movie for its entire length. Wade (Simmons) pulls up to a gas station in the middle of nowhere just as a fight between a couple sitting in chairs outside the convenience store and a man yelling at his yappy dog is about to break out. He walks up to the dog owner and solves the problem by shooting him along with both members of the couple before driving away into the sunset or sunrise or whatever direction he’s going in. He is deranged. And not just your average Movie Villain deranged. He pleasures himself in one scene to a photo of another man’s wife who he has just killed. There is a version of “You Can’t Run Forever” that plays like “High Tension” or “Martyrs,” really leaning into its ultra-violent worldview.

The issue is that director Michelle Schumacher didn’t have the courage to make that movie. She loses control over the tone constantly throughout this story, directing scenes with such flat energy that it leaves Simmons adrift in a film that doesn’t know what to do with him but doesn’t actually care either way. Things really jump off when Wade kills Eddie (Allen Leech) and forces Miranda (Isabelle Anaya), Eddie’s stepdaughter, to take off running through the woods. As very pregnant mother Jenny (Fernanda Urrejola) panics at home and the bumbling local cops fumble their way through investigating what appear to be the first-ever murders in their jurisdiction my favorite bit involves an incompetent dad deputy reading a manual on how to handle a crime scene Wade hunts Miranda out in those trees. It’s another variation on “The Most Dangerous Game.”

Except it isn’t, really. Schumacher and co-writer Carolyn Carpenter don’t even trust their own “predator vs. prey” setup for more than a few minutes before they cut back to some other nonsense involving Jenny or the inept officers trying to figure out who is terrorizing their small town so that they can keep us apprised of what we already know is going on with Miranda in those woods. And when flashbacks vaguely try to give Wade a loose motive for what he’s doing which doesn’t make sense because this kind of movie only works if you have a ruthless killer without a motive who just wants to push someone until they find that inner strength! everything falls apart even further. That sort of direct ‘one on one’ thriller requires trust between performers and collaborators like editors and cinematographers who can make the setting into as threatening of a backdrop as possible; there is absolutely no trust present in any part of “You Can’t Run Forever.” None of it ever feels tense at all; instead, everything about this movie seems like nothing more than some sort of joke or prank that would have completely fallen apart had it not been for having an Oscar winner right smack dab in its middle section.

That Oscar winner has perverted delight in the fact that he is so superior to everything else going on. Simmons’ choices have all of these things in them: the hardness in his eyes; the twisted smile when he knows he’s got power; a sense of real danger; and yet nobody else in any scene with him will rise to meet what he’s doing, which makes for this strange professional/amateur dynamic where it feels like mediocre athletes are trying to keep up with an all-star. Schumacher relies on cheap emotional tricks to try and jack up the stuff around her star including exploitative plot devices such as suicide and imminent childbirth peril but none of it ever gets up to Simmons’ level; he’s just running too fast for the movie.

Watch You Can’t Run Forever For Free On Gomovies.

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