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Runaway Train (1985)



Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 7,779

My Rating

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


Drama, Action & Adventure

May 15, 2001

MGM Home Entertainment

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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (4) | DVD (3)

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.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop 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.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop 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.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop 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.

February 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Future Movies UK

A gripping action thriller that's also extremely well acted by Jon Voight and Eric Roberts in Oscar-nominated performances.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

While RUNAWAY TRAIN does balance action and philosophy quite neatly it's still intriguing to wonder how differently Kurosawa would have handled it

September 1, 2009 Full Review

Highly unusual drama with single premise: survive the runaway train. A metaphor for us all.

March 2, 2008

You'll be on the edge of your seat....until it stops

May 12, 2005

Gets derailed by a mediocre screenplay.

August 21, 2004 Full Review
Spirituality and Practice

A real horror: heavy-handed, stupidly gruesome, as claustrophobic as its train cars and prison cells.

July 4, 2004

O vilão é caricato demais, mas Eric Roberts e Jon Voight têm boas atuações. Alguns momentos são eletrizantes, mas outros, apenas bobos.

July 25, 2003
Cinema em Cena

Dominated by a massive performance from Voight, this is a cracking action movie that stays on track to the end of the line, en route turning its monstrous protagonist into a brutal anti-hero.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

A great, suspenseful film from director Andrei Konchalovsky before he went Hollywood and on to junk like Tango and Cash.

January 16, 2003
KFOR Channel 4 News

Totally ridiculous (and based on the work of Akira Kurosawa!) but very exciting.

December 16, 2002 Full Review Source:

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.
September 4, 2013

Super Reviewer

Runaway Train is pure low-budget 80's cheese. Probably without the low-budget though. It's almost a guilty pleasure as the acting is laughable, mainly thanks to Eric Roberts but it's not like anyone else puts in an Oscar worthy performance. The story is wildly unrealistic but lots of fun. To be fair though, the end scene is quite powerful and resonant. I think that is probably why people love it so much. The right kind of quirky.
June 26, 2013

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.
October 21, 2012

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.

February 21, 2011
El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Runaway Train (1985) (DE)
  • Runaway Train (UK)
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