Bruce Campbell stars in this unique realtime-style crime tale and love story, new on Blu-ray
Running Time is available on Blu-ray March 16 from Synapse Films.
1997’s Running Time is a fascinatingly made film which I think may have been unfairly overlooked as among the indie crime boom which erupted after Pulp Fiction. Star Bruce Campbell has often cited the film as a personal favorite from his filmography, and it’s easy to see why.
Inspired by Hitchcock’s Rope and stylized as one continuous shot in black and white, Running Time, a title which we find serves a double meaning, follows the real-time exploits of just-released convict Carl (Campbell), who has planned a heist using knowledge “from inside”, which goes into motion the moment he steps out of prison.
Unfortunately his bumbling team makes several mistakes and the job goes horribly sideways, and Carl finds himself on the lam.
I think this could already be a compelling film given those bones and the film’s uniquely novel style, but its best aspect is that among all of the ways that Carl’s plans don’t work out as anticipated, the most interesting is unexpectedly reconnecting with his old flame, Janie (Anita Barone).
After a chance encounter he lays low in her apartment, reigniting a love story that never happened. The onetime high school sweethearts, now both older and burdened by hardships, get a surprise second chance at love — under the most distressing of circumstances.
The “one continuous shot” conceit could’ve come off as a gimmick but is rather terrifically executed by director Josh Becker, who conceived the idea, and his cast and crew. The real-time storytelling does give it a sense of immediacy and groundedness that feels unique. The film was edited from multiple days of shooting, but expertly edited to believably look and feel like a single, relentless 70-minute sprint.
Running Time was previously released on DVD by Anchor Bay but the out-of-print disc of the lesser-known film became gradually harder to find and sought after by Campbell fans. Synapse Films has released the film to Blu-ray (and re-released to DVD) with an new 2K scan from the original camera negative and the theatrical audio mix (which was not on the DVD). This release features all new artwork including a snazzy reversible cover.
Special Features and Extras
Run and Gun with Bruce Campbell (20:27)
A new interview with Bruce Campbell discussing his friendship with Josh Becker, the film’s origins and development, and the complexities of shooting a film with long takes, stylized as a “one continuous shot”.
Freaky Film Festival Q&A (19:32)
An impromptu pre-screening Q&A with Josh Becker and Bruce Campbell in November 1997 at the film’s Champaign-Urbana Freaky Film Festival premiere.
Theatrical Trailer (2:18)
Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.