Running Time (Blu-ray Review)

vAs big a Bruce Campbell fanatic as I was back in the 1990s, when Synapse Films announced they were releasing his starring film Running Time on Blu-ray for the first time, I had no idea what it was. Awareness wasn’t what it was back then, there was no social media and only a few news sites. Not like we are today with loaded marketing sites masquerading as “news” where we know about everything all time time. Big or small. Nonetheless, I was excited to check it out. Synapse has restored it in 2K and also put a new interview with Bruce Campbell on the disc. Its their first release in a while. It’ll be available on March 16th. But, you can pre-order it now if you so please. And one way to do so is by using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows this review. You can also order it straight from Synapse Films by going to their site.



Bruce Campbell (The EVIL DEAD Series, TV’s Burn Notice) stars as Carl, a man who launches a full-scale heist to steal mob money from the prison that just released him. With the help of an old friend (Jeremy Roberts, The People Under the Stairs), a driver and a safe-cracker, Carl’s attempt to carry out the heist is fraught with incompetence and bad luck. As the clock ticks and the circumstances turn tragic, Carl is forced to make the most important decision of his life.

Where had this film been hiding my whole life? Inspired by Hitchcock’s Rope, Josh Becker’s Running Time takes the “single take” concept and extends it to following a man released from prison right through a heist. How this film didn’t get as much buzz back in 1997 is beyond me. For as cheap as it was, the results are as impressive as anything with a lot more money thrown at it. Sure, you can play a game to try and find the cuts, but they are done quite clever.

It features a pretty nice cast of Bruce Campbell, Anita Barone and some less know figures, but there is a terrific chemistry between them all and they all offer a feeling as if we are truly peering in on their lives. Done in real time, its tough to go through big motions and arcs, but they manage to pull it off. This is possibly one of the best dramatic performances from Campbell, which allows him to lean on some of his comforts while also playing a solid leading man type that George Clooney would perfect. Anita Barone shows up in two spots but really makes a great impact when she’s given the opportunity.

If you’re into real time stuff or movies that lean heavy on experimentation with craft, you can’t miss Running Time. As an added bonus, the script is quite good and the ensemble is pretty terrific. Becker’s film is quite impressive and clever, and is truly a cult classic film that deserves a rediscovery. Hopefully, this Blu-ray will find that audience as it has myself. There’s a little bit of dated slang (Said by criminals) that’ll have you cringe in the open, but get right past that and its well worth the overall result.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/DetailRunning Time debuts on Blu-ray with a brand new 2K restoration. Synapse is known for their beautiful restorations and this is right in league with them. Shot in 16mm, this one looks like a gorgeous film from the 1950s or such, its that nicely passible. Details are strong and the image is crisp. There’s a nice, light layer of grain that works as a nice aesthetic on the feature. This is probably the best this film will ever appear and another applaud-worthy presentation from Synapse Films.

Depth:  There’s a good depth of field for how intimate the movie is. There’s a good push back and clear focus in all interiors and exteriors of the film. Motions are cinematic and smooth with no distortion elements coming from the rapid movements of actors of from the quick spinning camera.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and have plenty of good saturation and contrast. Dark fabrics, hair follicles and surfaces all have nice patterns, textures and details that come through very finely. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  N/A

Flesh Tones: Skin tones have good shades of white, gray and black that maintain a consistent appearance all throughout the film. Facial features like wrinkles, makeup, stubble, moles and other textures come through very clear and are discernible in pretty much all medium and close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean


Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Running Time comes with its original stereo track. This lossless audio really feels live and adds to the real time aspect of watching the film. Its free and loose and the effects, music and vocals are naturally blend in here and have space to play. Its a really genuine feeling and approach.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. There’s a lot of live coverage dialogue and this track picks it up quite cleanly and plenty audible at all times.


Running Time comes with a reversible cover featuring alternate artwork.

Audio Commentary

  • with Director Josh Becker & Star Bruce Campbell

“Run and Gun with Bruce Campbell” Featurette (HD, 20:27) – An interview with Bruce Campbell, shot in black and white with the same aspect ratio as the film which is a nice touch. Bruce gives a history of he and director Josh Becker, down to sharing that Becker only ate mac & cheese which landed him with one of the first recorded cases of scurvy in the United States in a long time. He then goes over a pretty detailed look at shooting the film, bluntly and in a fun, Bruce Campbell fashion. Its an exciting account of their 10 day shoot.

Archival 1997 Freaky Film Festival Q&A Video (HD, 19:32) – Done at the University of Illinois before a screening of the film. There’s a disclaimer about the festival having to show the film on video because the print had not made it in transit yet. The Q&A came about because they needed to kill time while the setup was changed. Bruce, as always is quite the entertainer and fields questions about Hercules, Evil Dead and Brisco County Jr while people ask about the film.

Original Trailer (HD, 2:18)


Wow! What a wonderful surprise Running Time was. Definitely one I’ll keep in a rotation for years to come. Synapse gives it probably the best presentation it’ll ever see as well as a great interview with Bruce Campbell. There is also a terrific commentary and a vintage Q&A that really make this as complete a release as can be. Definitely seek this one out, even if you’re the tiniest bit curious.


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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