Runaway Train (1985)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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 … More

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


as Oscar 'Manny' Manhei...

as Buck McGeehy

as Frank Barstow

as Ranken

as Dave Prince

as Eddie MacDonald

as Tall Con

as Cat Con

as Old Con

as Announcer

as Trainer

as Prison Guard

as Sue Majors

as Foreman Cassidy

as Fireman Wright

as Engineer Eastbound 1...

as Head Brakeman

as Conductor Eastbound ...

as Signal Maintainer

as 1st Crewman

as 2nd Crewman

as Hitman

as Bodybuilder

as Black Guard

as Emergency Worker

as Tall Con
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Runaway Train

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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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