Set in dead of winter in Chicago, Running Scared is an ultra-hip cop picture, shot in gritty style by Peter Hyams, that plays like a combination of Beverly Hills Cop and Hill Street Blues.
Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal are undercover cops too cool for words, guys who risk their necks by the hour without a hint of fear, chase women together at night and feel smugly superior to their cohorts in the force. Hines and Crystal are concerned particularly with aborting the career of aspiring Spanish godfather Jimmy Smits, a ruthless thug whose favorite film undoubtedly would be Scarface.
Plot [by Gary DeVore] is no more original or eventful than an average police TV show, so it must sink or swim on the moment-by-moment cleverness of the dialog and the behavioral talents of Hines and Crystal. Fortunately, these elements prove formidable. Nonstop banter between the two stars is rowdy, intimate, natural and often very funny. Hyams keeps most of it fresh, including the action ending, staged within one of Chicago’s architectural spectacles, the cavernous, glass-enclosed Illinois State Building.