You Don’t Need to See Brad Furman’s ‘Runner Runner’ Once, But You’ll Need to See His ‘Fast Forward…

By  · Published on October 6th, 2013

You Don’t Need to See Brad Furman’s ‘Runner Runner’ Once, But You’ll Need to See His ‘Fast Forward’ Twice

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.

Brad Furman’s latest movie, Runner Runner, has been getting terrible reviews. Like really, really terrible. I think we at FSR even just avoided it entirely. That’s a shame because his first two narrative features, The Take and The Lincoln Lawyer, were pretty well received. And prior to that, his shorts were successful, too. His debut is called Fast Forward, and it involves the 1981 shooting of President Reagan. Rather than recreating the incident entirely, Furman takes the familiar TV footage, which millions of us have seen over and over before, and mixes it with peripheral reenactment where necessary for an added fictional component. Using the real material is for good purpose as the point of the film seems to be that the footage – and much of television like it – is confusing in its chaos and maybe not at all what it seems.

Is Furman aiming to equate the Reagan assassination attempt with the JFK assassination? Perhaps. Fast Forward is about a news reporter (David Deblinger) who sees the footage play out on a monitor in his van five minutes before the events actually happen, Final Destination style. After finally realizing what he’s seeing, he rushes out to try to stop the gunman. But the video he’s seen doesn’t offer a clear look at the guy. In the end, I’m not totally sure what ensues. Maybe that’s bad directing on Furman’s part, or maybe (more likely) it’s intentionally incomprehensible. I want to think that what the film’s protagonist did was change history from a course in which the president had died in the shooting. But that’s because I watched too much Quantum Leap growing up – i.e., remember when Sam saved Jackie Kennedy from being one of those to die on November 23, 1963?

Watch Fast Forward, maybe a few times, after the jump. And after that you can also check out another early Furman short film starring Rachel Bilson.

Furman’s second short, The Stranger, is nowhere to be found online. But his third, like Fast Forward, is fortunately hosted by Spike. Titled Unbroken, it’s technically an extended PSA in which Bilson cleans up her room after being date raped, flashing back to the devastating incident the whole time. The black and white cinematography by Lukas Ettlin (Furman’s DP on every film except the latest … hmmm) gives it a dark and serious tone that’s almost completely undone by the heavy Peter Gabriel song. It’s just too much of a music video to work as an effective spot for The Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN). Remember that old PSA about runaways that featured Gabriel and Kate Bush’s “Don’t Give Up”? I still picture that ad every time I hear the song. I don’t see the same happening for anyone with this. It is shot well, though, and this film is apparently what got Furman the most notice from studios.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.