Directed By: Paul Michael Glaser
Written By: Richard Bachman (Stephen King) and Steven E. de Souza (screenplay)
I’ve never realized before but this movie is set in 2017. So I first have to question how could they be so wrong? Not only are we not executing our prisoners on network television in 2016 but the world seems to be more PC than ever. At the very least we could be collaring our prisoners with exploding devices to prevent escape. My second question would have to be for myself, and why it’s been so long since I last saw this movie.
It’s been probably as many as 15 years since I have seen this movie. I added it to the collection a few years ago around the time The Hunger Games was coming out. I distinctly remember joking on a regular basis that I wasn’t seeing the movie because “I had seen The Running Man.” While I did eventually see that movie and found it to be OK I still think it was simply a rip off of this movie, and a version with kids can never match up to the one with Schwarzenegger.
This movie is campy and cheesy but I loved it when I was a kid and I love it now. It kind of takes me back a little to those days when I was 15 and still thought Pro Wrestling was cool. This movie is like Pro Wrestling only with killing, and a mob mentality on the outside that rivals the French Revolution. Both the thematic element of the show as well as the reaction by the public are stolen ideas by the Hunger Games books.
One of my favorite parts of the movie is when the elderly lady puts her money on Schwarzenegger getting the next kill despite him being the should be victim and not a stalker. She says “He’s a mean motherfucker!” and coming from that sweet looking old lady that line is just golden. This movie also features an awesome fight scene between Schwarzenegger and his old buddy Jesse “the Body” Ventura. Two men who would both eventually go into politics with great success. Ventura serving as GoverBody in Minnesota and Schwarzenegger serving as the Governator of California. The latter actually used this movie as an inside joke during his campaign, labeling his campaign bus “The Running Man.” I would love to go back to 1987 and catch people coming out of the theater to see there impressions on this possibility in the future.
The Running Man book was written by Richard Bachman, a pseudonym created by Stephen King so he could publish more books. King literally wrote too many books for his publisher and had to create a new author he could publish under the guise of. It was a big deal and a very secret pseudonym for some time. Eventually hardcore fans started figuring it out and Richard Bachman suddenly “died.” However, when the rights to this story were bought it was unknown King was the actual author. I am a big fan of King but have never read this particular book so can’t offer any insight into how it compares.
There is probably a really interesting story in this movie involving Richard Dawson and his part in the film. Unfortunately I don’t know the story and know little of the man who was a popular game show host long before I was born. A real game show host playing an evil game show host in a movie has to have interesting real life comparisons behind the scenes.
This is far from a perfect action movie but it was memorable if nothing else. It has a cheesy screenplay from a guy who specialized in these types of films and it’s based on a story from a legitimate Wordslinger. I have to give it a thumbs up if for no other reason than somebody modified the idea and made millions on it with Jennifer Lawrence. There are better movies out there more worthy of your time but should you spend yours with this one it wouldn’t be completely wasted.
NEXT MOVIE: Saving Private Ryan (1998)