Schwarzenegger time! Spoilers ahead, ya?
The Running Man from 1987 by Paul Michael Glaser is a fast-paced action flick loosely based on a Stephen King Novel of the same name. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger we are presented one of his typical roles as a ueber-human with larger-than-life strength that is faced with an evil that he has to overcome with said powers.
The story itself is not too simple seeing how it is based on Stephen King. In 2017(wow, so far in the future) the economy has become so bad that society has changed and people are under the rule of a government completely ruled by police force. Corporations as ever have the last word in everything and the division between rich and poor is larger than ever. In this world a ruthless rich man has made the most of it and created a game-show in which criminals have to face off against trained killers and are rewarded if they survive but of course end up dead if they can’t overcome these odds. All this is filmed and packed into a audience-integrating show that is a favourite with the upper crust of the people living in this world. Our hero is sent to be an unwilling participant in this game-show and has to survive and uncover the truth behind the scam he is involved in. The goal is clear and the pace in which we find our hero being in the game is fast so we are thrown into the action as soon as possible and the direction the film wants to go is clear as it all comes down to Schwarzenegger’s character getting his life sorted out in the process of ending this game-show.
The main character in this film is Ben Richards as portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. There is not much to his character I sadly have to admit as Schwarzenegger gives the typical interchangeable role. He is strong, has principles and that’s about it. He has no family – at least none we ever hear of – and is naturally an overall bad ass that – though looking out for himself in the beginning – is fighting for the good of everyone in the end. That’s really about it. Now of course this is still enjoyable as Schwarzenegger is just such a joy to watch perform due to his “ham and cheese”-type of acting but overall it is a really dull and boring character. One can hardly see oneself in him, simply because he is such a larger than life persona.
Our main-villain is Darmon Killian played by Richard Dawson and as much as acting goes he is the best we get in this film though that does not say too much for him. His first introduction shows him being nice to something who accidentally moped his foot but backhandedly firing him as soon as he is out of the way. A clearer way of saying we have a cowardly boss-type that is only strong when he is not confronted directly could not be asked for. He is – just like our hero – a boring person as his motives are along the line of “money makes the world go round”. So basically you can’t expect a deep meaning behind his actions.
Now what makes this film the mindless fun that it is are the antagonists Ben Richards is facing with-in the game-show. Dynamo, Buzzsaw, Subzero and Fireball are the people he faces and has to kill in order to win the game. They are as cheesy as you can expect and their names are a perfect presentation of what their abilities are. They are over-the-top comical characters and thinking they are the ones that butchered countless criminals before Richards is actually rather amusing. They were build to be threatening I would presume but their presentation and costumes are just way too hilarious. Jesse Ventura has to be named here especially. His name is Captain Freedom and all of his scenes are down-right hilarious. He enjoys every minute of it and is easily the best thing about this film. YEAH!
The love interest is Amber Mendez as played by Maria Conchito Alonso and yet again she has nothing to make us interested in her. She is the typical female first hating the protagonist but falling in love with him over the course of the story as he saves her/is manly and desirable.
The film is of course only trying to entertain us with good actions scenes and amazing catchphrases and in that term it certainly does not disappoint. Schwarzenegger is the best in delivering those lines and the over-the-top fight scenes with the so called “Stalkers” are actually quite fun too watch. However this is where your expectations should end though. Do not expect a deep story with amazing cinematography and a twist-ending. It is simply a film with greatly choreographed fight-scenes with over-the-top gladiators. That’s all there is too this. Fun if you lower your standards.
Again this film does not pass the Bechdel-test. Only one female matters and has a name in this film which is the love interest. She does talk to other females but – guess what – only about Ben Richards and his amazing body and looks. When the show starts we are welcomed with visuals of a group of female dancers in skimpy bodysuits dancing for us. They stay throughout the game-show in the background as nothing else but eye-candy. This is one of those films that completely sexualises every female in it. We have the other older female being part of the show as Killian asks the audience which stalker to send but they have no relevance to the plot whatsoever. It’s annoying at best as this film is a representation of any action film made during that time until today.
As much as I enjoyed the cheese and ham given by everyone involved this film does not really hold up though. I can watch it a few times and enjoy it thanks to Schwarzenegger and Ventura but overall it is a rather disappointing flick that unsuccessfully tries to keep you interested until the end.
There are of course uncanny resemblances to “The Hunger Games” which is currently a big hit but I would like to touch on those another day.
Overall if you are into mindless fun or you are looking for a film that will not challenge you but rather would like you to just turn off any brain-function, watch this one.
“The Running Man” is owned by TriStar pictures and I have nothing to do with them…which is okay with me.