I wanted to see Running Scared because I was so fond of The Cooler, writer-director Wayne Kramer's previous film. The Cooler was a character-based suspense film in which both the characterizations and the suspense were handled impressively.
Running Scared did not begin well. It started with one of those teaser scenes that precede the rest of the story told as flashback, which seems to be the trend in crime films these days (probably started by The Usual Suspects). The teaser scene preceded a violent, bloody shootout in which one guy was shot in the crotch. Five minutes into the movie, I was disappointed and thought I'd made a mistake.
Fortunately, the next hour or so redeemed the movie greatly, and I was absorbed by the story and action until the end. Like The Cooler, Running Scared had at least one too many endings; the extra endings in The Cooler fit into its overall theme of luck, but the endings in Running Scared were cliched and manipulative. In particular, the very last scene was entirely unnecessary and somewhat irritating.