Runaway Train (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

Runaway Train (1985)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Runaway Train Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky's second American film may well be the only existential adventure flick in Hollywood history. Two prisoners, Manny (Jon Voight) and Buck (Eric Roberts), escape from a desolate Alaskan maximum-security facility. They hop aboard a speeding train, making a clean escape. But the engineer has suffered a heart attack, and the train goes out of control. To prevent a disastrous head-on collision, the railroad heads decide to derail the runaway train, killing its occupants to save the lives of hundreds of others. Once Manny catches on to what's happening, he tries to jump off the train, only to be talked out of such a foolhardy act by railroad employee Sara (Rebecca DeMornay). As doom approaches, Manny apparently goes mad, viciously preventing any attempts to stop the train or rescue its passengers: if he's to die, and if the others are to be saved, it will be on his terms, or no terms. Runaway Train was slated as a project for Akira Kurosawa in 1970, but for various creative and scheduling reasons, it remained on the back burner for 15 years. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovimore
Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: Djordje Milicevic, Paul Zindel, John Bunker, Edward Bunker
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 15, 2001
MGM Home Entertainment

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Jon Voight
as Oscar 'Manny' Manhei...
Eric Roberts
as Buck McGeehy
Kyle T. Heffner
as Frank Barstow
T.K. Carter
as Dave Prince
Kenneth McMillan
as Eddie MacDonald
John Otrin
as Cat Con
Hank Worden
as Old Con
Wally Rose
as Announcer
Big Yank
as Trainer
Dana Belgarde
as Prison Guard
Diane Erickson
as Sue Majors
Don McLaughlin
as Foreman Cassidy
Vladimir Bibic
as Fireman Wright
Loren Jones
as Engineer Eastbound 1...
Obie Weeks
as Head Brakeman
John-Clay Scott
as Conductor Eastbound ...
Carmen Filpi
as Signal Maintainer
Phillip Earl
as 1st Crewman
Tom Keenan
as 2nd Crewman
Tony Epper
as Hitman
Jerry Brainum
as Bodybuilder
Duey Thomasick
as Emergency Worker
John Bloom
as Tall Con
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Runaway Train

Critic Reviews for Runaway Train

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (5)

Wrenchingly intense and brutally powerful, Andrei Konchalovsky's film rates as a most exciting action epic and is fundamentally serious enough to work strongly on numerous levels.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Somehow one leaves aside the blatant implausibilities, the coincidences, even Eric Roberts, and takes great pleasure in a breakneck ride to the end of the line.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The nihilism and the vicious intensity of Mr. Voight's performance here are entirely different from anything else he has done on screen; it's a shame those qualities emerge in such a vigorous but disjointed film.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Runaway Train belongs to a rare genre: the intelligent thriller.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Top Critic

Runaway Train is a reminder that the great adventures are great because they happen to people we care about.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

A thunderous proto-Speed with exploitation trappings, it also works as an existential art movie with a serious director and a dusted-off Akira Kurosawa script.

Full Review… | February 7, 2014

Audience Reviews for Runaway Train


The underrated John Voight crafts another stellar, intense, chamaleonic performance. Great and defiant thriller that keeps its best cards for the end, an instant that holds an overwhelming sense of beauty, one final act of honor and acceptance of the seemingly unavoidable fate, for is better to embrace death with honor than to rot like an animal in confinement.

Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer


A solid but conventional action thriller like many others made in the 1980s, oscillating between efficient moments and scenes that simply do not work. Even if relying on a lot of coincidences and with a ridiculous villain, it offers great performances from Voight and Roberts.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

What an entertaining ride. The dialogue is laughable at times, but what works is the raw storytelling. Loaded with "What's that actor's name?" type actors, it works because the actors want it to work. The plot isn't anything deep other than two convicts on the run on a train without brakes. That's all we really need. Yet, only a few minutes into the opening credits, it drops an unexpected bit of information by revealing that it is based on a screenplay by legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.


Perhaps, it explains why this isn't your typical action film, but a great action film. You really get the feeling the train is out of control (as much as it could be on rails) with great camerawork and stunts. It doesn't rely on 100 camera edits a minute, or one explosion after the other or repetitive gunfights with corny one-liners that other action films of the 80's relied on so heavily. Jon Voight is awesome. Keep an eye out for Mr. Blue from Reservoir Dogs.

El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer

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