The Running Man (1987) - Review
Arnold Schwarzenegger at his best, bringing the heat in an action classic that is upstanding even to today’s standards. Set in the future where a tv show is keeping the peace Arnold becomes tied into the show after he is framed and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.
The Running Man is an Arny flick when all is said and done, with the futuristic violent game show (titled “The Running Man”) merely as a set piece for the Arny action to take place. Not a lot can be said about the movies overall performances as each and every character was merely OK, at least from a critique standpoint that is, and Arny was simply acting out every role he has ever done; the small talk, hard-ass, bad-ass hero.
The poor are segregated from the rich, and like todays world everyone seems fixated on on-screen entertainment. However, unlike in today’s world the entertainment is much more violent and focused on bad things happening to bad people, which seems to be how things are justified given that in the game show, ”The Running Man“, all the contestants are convicts. The only way to survive the game show is to run fast, run hard, and hope the stalkers don’t catch up to the runners before they reach the finishing line.
Arny has more one-liners in this movie than most his portfolio, and in honesty the camera very rarely steps away from his character except for brief moments.
Why I Find The Running Man Mediocre!
Clearly Stephen King (writer of novel, novel behind this cinematic adaptation) wanted to outline the extremities that politics would have in a rundown society that has completely divided the rich and poor. Using television broadcasting to keep people of both sides happy through violent entertainment onscreen.
Truth be told not a whole lot is laid out in The Running Man to show audiences the outer world of society breakdowns, but instead focuses solely on the violent tv show, titled “The Running Man”. The game show is simple, grab a few convicts that the shows audiences will despise, put them in a dangerous, dirt-rubble environment and have them run literally for their lives. While in the game show arena, the convicts (known as the runners) are wearing a running suit, and each has to run to the finishing point without being murdered by the shows killers (known as the stalkers) in various outlandish attires.
Arnold, a couple of his convict friends, and the woman who got him caught and thus thrown into the game, are the running men, and they are about to have their running shoes wear-out because the game has dangers at every turn. The stalkers that pursue the runners are armed, dangerous, and terribly fashioned, which means Arny has his work cutout putting a brute force stop to the games violence.
It’s hard to hate The Running Man as classic 80’s Schwarzenegger movies have quite a few fan followers, and with good reason, as like most classic Arny movies, the film is entertaining to sit through with ease. However, the movie does feel rather bland when critiqued overall, and the action is far from the best in its genre. It’s a fun, yet mediocre outing for Arny, but does certainly have its charms, most notably the witty humour and one-liners delivered from Schwarzenegger throughout the movie.
A future where a game show on tv rules the fate of a society seems slightly far fetched and ignorant, but does make up for quite an entertaining 80s action flick if that’s where the taste takes you. But, the acting was average, the cast was OK, and fits neatly into the sub-category for Arny action flicks to watch before you die. What really put a downer on the whole movie for myself was the sheer boring twist ending, as it felt rushed, half-assed, and poorly written.
The extent that the story took to describe the world we were thrust into felt like a last thought, and rather than making this a thought provoking movie about a futuristic TV games show that’s violence is used for sheer entertainment felt lost on this movie, as instead we received a bare bones Schwarzenegger action movie that was more focused on the camera spending as much time as humanly possible on Arny. An Arny action flick without true writing behind the screen, and thus the dumb fun comes into play, and great screenwriting takes a back step from everything else.
The real gem within this movie though was the TV games shows host, as he truly was a sinister character, more bent over and focused on the shows ratings than he was about the vicious violence that takes place within the game show. Essentially, the game show host is the villain behind the story, and with every Arny movie that came before, Schwarzenegger “will be back”, and later gets his revenge.