A game nobody survives, but Schwarzenegger has yet to play.
As a part of Cineplex’s Most Wanted Mondays film program where they show a retro film once a month on a Monday as voted on by you the people, and hosted by me here in lovely Montreal, (cheap plug) I got to relive this little film filled with one-liners, practical effects, a gaped-toothed Austrian which is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name.
Holy crap in a handbasket, Batman! This one certainly didn’t age well visually. I always love seeing films from past eras trying to predict what the future will look like style-wise while trying to uphold the latest trends from their moment. The Running Man which is directed by Paul Michael Glaser, does just that. Set in a dystopia totalitarian future, where the government and television networks work together to spread propaganda Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) must survive on the biggest game show where fugitives try to run for their freedoms from “stalkers,” paid-trained killers. Along the way Richards picks up friends to help him overthrow the network and their smarmy host Damon Killian (Richard Dawson.)
– The dark tone. Now I believe this was done purposely, and not just as a result of a shrinking budget, but everything in this film felt dirty. From the destroyed city streets where the poor must scavenge for themselves and avoid rioting, to the studio set in which the rich people are the live audience for the heinous marathon. This is something I didn’t feel while watching The Hunger Games. Yeah the districts kinda looked grungy, but they didn’t feel poor and filthy.
– The one-liners. I’ll admit it. I’m a fan of cheesy oneliners. And this flick has a bunch. Even some of Arnold’s greatest hits get some use in this one. I mean this in the sense that they’re so bad, that they come back around on the spectrum and are funny again. Kind of like the rule of three.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK:
– The acting. Big surprise right? No one. Not even Richard Dawson here would be safe from a Razzie. Now I know the script had something to do with it, but damn, I’ve seen table reads from fourth-graders that packed more emotion. They all read like a bunch of Terminators; just without the cool shades.
– The entire third act. I felt the movie was progressing along well until… BAM. It was a 20 minutes snowball dash to the finish. You don’t really get the emotional payoff of seeing Killian get what’s coming to him. Did I mention how great Killian is for a villain name? It’s about as good as Vilain from The Expendables 2 (Electric Boogaloo)
– You’re in for a stupid good time. The premise may seem deep and revolutionary, well at the time it was. But it’s a relatively short 101 minutes that packed with one-liners about splitting people in two and puns on decapitation. This flick is a sure fire way to have a good time in front of the ol’ telly.
The Running Man is 80% Prime Awesome.