Not Even the Great J.K. Simmons Can Save ‘You Can’t Run Forever’

Ulises Duenas


If you hear that J.K. Simmons plays a serial killer in a new movie, your interest will no doubt be piqued, and with good reason. He’s a seasoned actor with solid drama and comedy chops and an Oscar to boot, but unfortunately, that isn’t enough to save You Can’t Run Forever (directed by Michelle Schumacher).


Eddie and his wife Jenny are a Brady Bunch-type couple, each with a kid from a different relationship, and expecting a new child together. Their daughter Miranda is in college and she’s been having trouble with anxiety and panic attacks for a reason that won’t be revealed until later. If that sounds like a dull description of the characters, it’s because they are monotonous -- and that’s a problem for the whole movie.



Simmons opens the film by gassing up his motorcycle in a rural area and shooting three people there for no reason. Even though his character is a psychotic killer, Simmons is charming in this role -- too charming in fact. His casual attitude towards his actions is funny and takes away from any feeling of dread that a thriller needs in order to be compelling.


At first, I thought this might be a black comedy, but the only laughs come from Simmons’s character, Wade, messing around with his victim’s belongings or trying to banter with dead bodies. It’s over-the-top and the only source of entertainment in the entire film.



The other core character is Miranda, whose only defining trait is her anxiety. There seems to be a growing trend in stories having prominent characters with some sort of mental illness. The pitfall is often that the writer approaches the subject with misunderstandings of what dealing with mental illness is really like. This movie falls into that category. Once things get going, Miranda spends the bulk of the movie running around the woods while having panic attacks. She’s a bland character in general, and it’s a shame that the writers couldn’t think of other traits to give her other than trauma.


At the end of the day, You Can’t Run Forever is another movie made on a budget, where the killer chases someone through the woods because it’s clearly cheaper to shoot there. You don’t have to pay for multiple sets when you can just take cameras into the woods. Put simply, it’s lacking in suspense and interesting characters. 



The other wasted element in the movie is Fernanda Urrejola, who plays Jenny, who has admirable acting skills. Her interactions with the killer are believable, and her reactions to the possibility that her daughter might be killed are quite moving. It’s a shame that she doesn’t  play a larger role, possibly because her character is pregnant, which doesn’t really play into things until the end.


Aside from some unintentional laughs, there’s little reason to see this movie. J.K. Simmons has some fun in his psycho-killer role, but the revelations of why he kills and what caused Miranda’s trauma fall flat. There’s no real suspense or drama here to save this romp through the woods.


Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a senior writer and film critic at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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