So this one was a bit of a random pick, but it’s one I’ve really been meaning to see for a long time, and it didn’t disappoint. ‘The Running Man’ by Paul Glaser, based on a book by Stephen King is another one of those time capsule movies. Made in 1987, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the height of his action star rise, Running Man is often forgotten about when you compare it to Terminator and Predator (which came out the same year). It’s such a product of the 80’s in every single aspect, that it’s really hard to take seriously most of the time, but that’s what makes it so damn fun to watch.
The story takes place 30 years in the future (from 1987, so 2017) and the worlds economy has collapsed and the government controls all aspects of society, including entertainment and the media. Arnold is a military police officer who gets imprisoned after disobeying an order to kill innocent civilians rioting over food rations. This kicks off his main journey; to help shut down the network running the sadistic and violent game show ‘Running Man’, which the entire nation absolutely adores. Just his luck however, as he and his comrades end up the next contestants on Running Man. You could pretty much fill in what happens from there, as there aren’t many surprises along the way.
The Running Man is pure 80’s pulp action, from beginning to end. I’m not familiar with Stephen Kings novel that inspired the movie, but I imagine it went in much more depth about how the network runs, as well as the parallels to modern day TV and reality shows. Since the movie is a pure action movie, it barely touches on the great themes it has going for it, and instead chose to bank on its huge action star killing bad dudes and saying badass one-liners. I swear at one point, he even says “I’ll be back” to the main villain of the movie, clearly winking to Terminator fans. His action figure character in this movie basically speaks in one-liners, which for any other era of movies (maybe except the 90’s) would be a disaster, but it’s just so cheesy and great.
While watching, I also thought that ‘The Running Man’ would actually be a great prospective movie to remake, or reboot. You won’t find me saying that often, as we have too many of those these days anyway, but the ideas in this movie could be reworked in really interesting ways. The movie is off base in SO many aspects of its version of the future, but it absolutely nails violence on TV and obsession with reality television. I feel like in the hands of a talented director, who doesn’t try to recreate the same movie so much as use it as inspiration, it could be rebooted into a smart satire about today’s obsession with pop culture.
That wraps up Running Man, thanks for checking out this really niche and random write-up. I promise more off-the-wall picks as well as some more classics coming up soon. I think I’m running behind a couple days now too, as it’s hard managing my time with work and summer classes, but I’m trying to keep it at around 6-7 of these a week. I’ll have a new one up later today, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!