Movie Review – The Running Man

posted in: Books, Movies, Random Stuff | 4

Two weeks ago Dear Husband and I rented The Running Man (1987) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (that scoundrel).

I bet you’re wondering why. Well…a number of months ago I was reading The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins. I was trying to explain the basic plot to Dear Husband. It’s set in a post apocalyptic world where the country is divided into districts and under strict military rule. The government censors all media and has all of the districts under it’s thumb. In order to squelch any idea of rebellion, each year the “hunger games” are held. One boy and one girl (ages 12 – 18) are chosen by lottery from each district to compete in a survival game. They fight to the death and last one standing wins. The games are broadcast across the nation and everybody has to watch.

This is a very basic plot explanation. The more I talked about it the more Dear Husband says that this sounds a lot like the movie The Running Man from the 80’s. I’ve never seen it so it gets put on our Netflix queue and months later it has finally made it to the top.

Here is the preamble from the beginning of the movie:

By 2017 the world economy has collapsed. Food, natural resources and oil are in short supply. A police state, divided into paramilitary zones, rules with an iron hand. Television is controlled by the state and a sadistic game show called “The Running Man” has become the most popular program in history. All art, music and communications are censored. No dissent is tolerated and yet a small resistance movement has managed to survive underground.

Hummmmm….sounds familiar.

My 2 second, amature review: Over all it’s pretty terrible. It’s full of ridiculous one liners that Arnold delivers in only the way that Arnold can. He’s clearly still working on his acting style in 1987. This ain’t no Kindergarten Cop. Richard Dawson plays the game show host and is fun to watch. You love to hate him and he does a good job of playing a soulless jerk that everybody loves but he gets his in the end.

The similarities between The Running Man and The Hunger Games pretty much stops at the basic premise. Both main characters are forced to fight to the death in a sick and twisted game and both have love interests. However, when Arnold gets together with his gal in the end it’s so cliché and reeks of 80’s movies that there should be a lonely saxophone playing in the background.

Here’s an interesting little fact: Once upon a time I worked at the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce with a very lovely woman who happened to be married to one of the producers of this movie. It’s because of that little coincidence that I had even heard of this movie when Dear Husband started drawing comparisons.

The movie is based on the book by Steven King. After I finish Water for Elephants I think I’m going to hop on over to the library to check it out. I’ll let you know how the book compares to the movie. I have a feeling I already know the answer.

4 Responses

  1. Russell

    You might also try out Battle Royale, a kick ass Japanese movie with a similar premise.

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