Plot: A wrongly convicted man must try to survive a public execution gauntlet staged as a game show – The Running Man.
Director: Paul Michael Glaser
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita, Yaphet Kotto
Release Date: September 1988
Loosely based on a 1982 Stephen King novel and coming out not long after the success of The Predator, The Running Man remains one of the most simple but very entertaining Sci-Fi films of the ’80s and also an action classic.
The Running Man is one of those films that came out before I was born and passed me by for at least 20 years, but when I finally found time to check the film out, I discovered an extremely underrated science fiction movie filled with over the top and exuberant performances, something I hadn’t experienced in a Schwarzenegger movie since possibly Conan the Barbarian.
Set somewhere between 2017 and 2019, this fight for survival on a dystopian game show isn’t the most complex of plots, though the film does try to weave in a subplot surrounding a rebel uprising, though I wouldn’t say it overly adds a great deal to the story, luckily, for the most part, the film sticks to what it’s good at, which is fun and exciting fight scenes with just the right amount of violence.
The action sequences were great, with next to no CGI to speak of. The film is fast and very well-paced. The Running Man may not be the most groundbreaking flick, but it’s still a relevant entry in the genre and well worth taking the time to watch at least once.
The characterisations are also very good, starting with Schwarzenegger. well before he only seemed to make Terminator sequels and cliche action films, still finding time to poke fun at his screen persona. Richard Dawson is also a highlight playing a self-parody of the evil game show host (years after his time on Family Feud).
In short, The Running Man is great. Bonkers, yes, but great. Just don’t go in expecting a complex plot, let your brain relax and enjoy Arnie at his best, and marvel at the fact that King wasn’t too far off predicting the future of television filled with reality TV.