You Can’t Run Forever (2024)

Allen Leech and J.K. Simmons star in the thriller “You Can’t Run Forever.”

Tawdry ‘You Can’t Run’ aims low and misses

    Sometimes it’s better when families don’t do things together. Take J.K. Simmons and his brood. Their intended, albeit misguided, attempt at bonding involves joining forces and venturing into the forest, not to camp, but to partake in a brain-numbing murder spree they affectionately refer to as “You Can’t Run Forever.” Indeed, you can’t. And this outing stops dead in its tracks when the first bullet pierces the skull of an irritating man with an even more annoying mop dog. 

     This is our introduction to Kristi Noem, er, Wade Bennett (Simmons), a frustrated and intensely agitated survivalist – and school teacher – who is welcomed home at the end of one exceedingly bad day by the thudding sound of his son’s stereo. Natch, he snaps, grabbing a high-powered pistol to waste both his progeny and a harpy neighbor before fleeing on sonny’s motorcycle into a “remote” (he loves using that word) timberland. Fortunately for the female population, Wade mostly targets men. And there are several of them felled along the way. But one in particular intrigues him. 

    That would be Eddie (Allen Leech), the guy he pulls up alongside at a rest stop urinal. Wade can’t do anything but take care of the matter in hand, if you catch my drift. But just wait. He follows Eddie and his morose, depressed teen stepdaughter, Miranda (Isabelle Anaya), to a “remote” area and pumps a half-dozen slugs into Dad while Miranda runs for her life. To be fair, he gives her a head start while scrolling through Eddie’s phone before hitting upon a sexy photo of the girl’s mother, Jenny (Fernanda Urrejola). What’s a psychopath to do but whip it out and pleasure himself in the passenger seat of Eddie’s car. Then, off he goes on foot in pursuit of Miranda for the next 50 minutes to do God knows what.

    Welcome to the repellent “You Can’t Run Forever,” a regressive, feel-bad thriller concocted by Simmons’ wife, Michelle Schumacher, who both directed and co-wrote the script with Carolyn Carpenter. Ain’t nepotism grand? And it starts to look even more domestic when you spot the name of Simmons’ son, Joe, listed as the film’s scorer during the opening credits. The immediate impression is that the Simmons clan is either truly warped, given all the cruelty and bloodletting on display, or merely inept at crafting a film. I will assume it’s the latter and pray it’s not the former. 

     The chief culprit is Schumacher, a seemingly unimaginative director and an even worse scenarist. She allows zero space for logic and basic human emotions. It’s as if AI generated the story. But then that would be an insult to computers. Most glaring is the absence of any motive Wade might have in hunting down the girl. There are already two eyewitnesses to the massacre involving the aforementioned pup owner. So, why the crucial need for a grown man’s dogged pursuit of a frightened 18-year-old girl? 

     If the flick exhibited a lick of brains, I might suspect a subliminal social commentary in the depiction of a crazed white guy terrorizing a young innocent Latina. Don’t give that notion a second thought. No, this is pure pulp, a lazily constructed composition designed to deliver nothing beyond cheap thrills and an excessively high body count. Run from it as fast and as far as you can. 

Movie review

You Can’t Run Forever

Rated: R for language, drug use, brief sexual content, suicide, violent content

Cast: J.K. Simmons, Isabelle Anaya, Fernanda Urrejola, Olivia Simmons and Allen Leech

Director: Michelle Schumacher

Writer: Michelle Schumacher and Carolyn Carpenter

Runtime: 103 minutes

Where: In theaters and on streaming May 17

Grade: D

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