Review of The Running Man (1987)

27 Dec

The Running Man (1987) is a sci-fi/action/comedy film, which is very loosely based on the Stephen King’s novel of the same name.

Directed by Paul Michael Glaser (The Cutting Edge (1992), Kazaam (1996)), who is best known for portraying David Starsky in the hit TV series Starsky & Hutch.

Written by Steven E. de Souza (Street Fighter (1994), Die Hard (1988)), known for being the writer behind some of the biggest blockbusters starring various action stars.

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, Mick Fleetwood and others.

And again I’m thrown into a dystopian version of future, the year 2019, as I wonder how come the future looks like 80’s so much. But before that we can enjoy a sequence where Arnold’s character is framed by government using some security footage taken from a conversation in a helicopter. For our enjoyment the footage is 35mm film quality, shot from multiple angles, from cameras which we don’t see from a directly opposite angle and so forth.

Then we see Arnold in prison rocking an awesome beard, which I wish he had left for the rest of the film, but sadly no.

Of course, he escapes and soon he meets Maria Conchita Alonso. This leads to me being exposed to some painful dialogue between two people with the most heavy accents they could’ve gotten. As usual I’m led to wondering why people never address his accent in his movies. It’s like “hey people, I know this is movie is about people fighting for their lives in awful outfits on public television, but what you really have to suspend your disbelief for is this huge guy always talking with an accent thicker than John Holmes’ penis.”

In comparison with the novel this can barely be called an adaptation, Schwarzenegger is the most inappropriate casting for Ben Richards. Somehow there’s more than one movie where there’s this ordinary guy that easily blends in and then they cast this 6-foot tall Austrian bodybuilder, because minor shit like characters don’t matter. Arnold did a bit more similar character to Ben Richards in Total Recall, but it’s still fucking Conan, wearing a jacket.

The movie attempts at the kind of social satire, that was popular and sort of worked in the 80’s, but it doesn’t come close to how well it was done in Robocop. There’s a Star Trek joke that actually works better now.

There’s a scene where some people watch a TV in a bar and I bet the extras weren’t told that they are reacting to a bunch of girls dancing, because I don’t think they would be so excited, cheering and yelling “yeah, go!” all the time.

Of course they decide to dress the leads into the most ridiculous looking spandex suits I’ve ever seen. And not all of the actors are as fit as Arnold, who tries to redeem his outfit by saying “I’ll be back” once again.

I’d like to see a remake of this, that would tone down the cheesiness and follow the novel closer by going for a tone more similar to that of Blade Runner perhaps.

Of course this doesn’t come close to Batman & Robin, but a pretty big portion of Arnold’s dialogue consists of just bad puns and one-liners. Then again, the same can be said about Arnold’s career as a whole. On the other hand who else can deliver a line like this “I live to see you eat that contract, but I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I’m going to ram it into your stomach and break your goddamn spine!”?

Overall it’s a really bad and over-the-top film, but if you’re anything like me and have a significant amount of appreciation for cheesy 80’s action movies I think you will enjoy it as well. Recommended for all the wrong reasons.

Pictured: What everyone will be wearing 8 years from now.

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