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Movie Review: 'You Can't Run Forever' Starring J.K Simmons

A strong opening scene is followed by a failing thriller in You Can't Run Forever.

By Sean PatrickPublished 27 days ago 4 min read
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You Can't Run Forever (2024)

Directed by Michelle Schumacher

Written by Caroline Carpenter, Michelle Schumacher

Starring J.K Simmons, Alan Leech, Fernanda Urrejola, Olivia Simmons

Release Date May 17th, 2024

Published May 20th, 2024

The thriller You Can't Run Forever opens with J.K Simmons on a motorcycle rolling up to a remote gas station. There, he pulls out a gun and shoots three people. He seems to have no motivation for this action. Seeing a woman hiding behind her vehicle, he looks at her, laughs to himself and chooses not to kill her. Another man exits the gas station and sees the bodies and Simmons just looks at him, points a finger of acknowledgment, and rides off. It's stunning, breathtaking, and fast way to start a movie. You Can't Run Forever grabs you by the throat from the first minute.

It's such an incredible and brutal start to a movie that there really isn't anywhere to go but down and sadly, yeah, that's where we're headed. You Can't Run Forever stars Isabelle Anaya as Miranda, a troubled teenager. A year ago, Miranda's father took his own life and since then, Anaya has struggled to get by. Her struggle has been unfortunately and unintentionally compounded by the fact that her mother has remarried and is about to have a baby. Stepdad, Eddie (Alan Leech), is a nice guy who has been nothing but supportive and sympathetic toward Miranda but he's not her dad and that weighs on their relationship.

As the family story unfolds, Miranda has been roped into going with Eddie to buy a crib for the new baby. Miranda's mom, Jenny (Fernanda Urrejola), hopes that the day trip will give Miranda the chance to bond with Eddie. The trip goes off the rails after the pair stop at a rest stop that happens to be the same place where our nameless killer has decided to stop. After a bizarre encounter with Eddie in the men's room, the killer creeps out Miranda who quickly runs off with Eddie to get away from the elderly weirdo. However, when Eddie stops to have an important conversation with Miranda, the killer finds them and thus begins a game of cat and mouse that will last throughout the rest of You Can't Run Forever.

When I tell you that the motivation behind J.K Simmons' killer character, who will come to know as Wade, is unsatisfying, that's an understatement. I won't spoil it just because I think it's bad, but, for me, it was such a bummer. Considering the opening scene and how intriguing and terrifying it was when we had no idea why this cold blooded man was randomly murdering people, the reveal of what led to the killing spree is shockingly mundane. Perhaps that's the point, perhaps the movie was going for a simple idea of an inciting incident that can drive even a seemingly good man to commit horrific acts, but this motivation is truly lame and undercuts the terrifying start of the movie, robbing the film of its best quality as Simmons is rendered pathetic rather than terrifying.

You Can't Run Forever is not poorly crafted. There are elements of a good thriller here. Sadly, once the shocking opening sequence is over, the movie runs out of ideas. After the stunning start we are introduced to Miranda as she climbs a tree. Because the dialogue focuses on Miranda climbing very high in the tree, it's telling us this trait of climbing trees will come back later as she's being chased through a forest by a psychopath. But, even this bit of screenwriting 101 fails to capitalize on the simplistic establishment of a character trait. The payoff to the tree climbing is deeply lame. Instead of creating new tension, it diffuses it.

The nicest thing I can say about You Can't Run Forever is that it is not incompetent. That's a pretty low bar. It's not incompetent, it's just not very good. The film wastes a stunner of an opening and, in actor J.K Simmons, the movie fumbles one of our best and most unique actors. Simmons should be dominating this movie. Simmons shows us the potential of this movie with his approach to the opening scene. I doubt any movie could keep up that level of unpredictable tension for an entire movie but You Can't Run Forever fails not only to maintain tension, it never even approaches anything as tense as the opening scene. What a shame because Simmons has Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men energy and it is wasted entirely.

Find my archive of more than 20 years and more than 2000 movie reviews at SeanattheMovies.blogspot.com. Find my modern review archive on my Vocal Profile, linked here. Follow me on Twitter at PodcastSean. Follow the archive blog on Twitter at SeanattheMovies. Listen to me talk about movies on the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast. If you have enjoyed what you have read, consider subscribing to my writing on Vocal. If you'd like to support my writing, you can do so by making a monthly pledge or by leaving a one time tip. Thanks!

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About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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