Directed by Paul Michael Glaser
Expectations: Super high, this is one of my favorite movies.
As with Commando, I’m unable to give The Running Man anything less than a full and total endorsement of four stars. I’ve seen this film more times than I could ever remember; at this point it almost seems like I was the one who escaped from prison and got roped into a sadistic, future game show when the girl I kidnapped ratted me out. But my love of The Running Man isn’t blind, and now that I’m tasked with sharing my thoughts, I’ll do my best to relate why I think it’s such a great movie.
The film began its life under director Andrew Davis, who was just coming off of the Chuck Norris movie Code of Silence and would later go on to make such films as Under Siege, The Fugitive and Collateral Damage. Davis was fired after one week of filming, and Arnold is on record saying that this hurt the film because the replacement director, Paul Michael Glaser, shot it like a TV show. I love Arnold, but I have to disagree. The Running Man is gorgeous, and the look is one of the main reasons it succeeds. The film bursts with colors, from bright neons to dark blacks and blues. Thick fog and dirty mists swirl around our characters, filling many of the shots with a level of intoxicating cinematography usually unseen in genre fare like this.
Another key to the success of The Running Man is the cast. Of course, Arnold is there kicking ass and droppin’ great one-liners as always, but The Running Man also boasts Yaphet Kotto, Jesse Ventura, Jim Brown and Maria Conchita Alonso. The biggest boon — by far — is the use of Richard Dawson as the host of The Running Man. His acting is superb, but it’s his experience and familiarity as a real game show host on The Family Feud that allows the audience to instantly buy into his role (provided they are old enough to remember his days hosting the show). He is the perfect string-pulling, smiling villain mastermind, doing whatever it takes to control the population and raise his ratings.
On top of all that, The Running Man is just a whole lot of badass fun. Arnold runs around, taking on comic book style, over-the-top gladiators of the future? If you can’t extract a bucket full of entertainment from that I can’t help you. And yes, I realize the irony of gaining pure entertainment from watching “my guy” kill the other guys, just like the show’s audience in the movie. Hmm… perhaps I’m part of the problem. I guess I’ll just have to watch the movie again to check. The Running Man is a satirical, dystopian, ultra-violent, testosterone-fueled masterpiece of ’80s action. If you haven’t seen it,
walk run to your local VidRent unit and spend those credz!
Next up in this chronological journey through the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger is a film that I only saw once as a small child: Red Heat! See ya then (which won’t be for at least two weeks because we have something special in store starting next week)!