The Running Man - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Running Man Reviews

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½ September 10, 2017
This is one of the risky, non-scary Stephen King films that can go both way. However, this film goes the right way, making Arnold look boss and having all of the gory fun that action films have. Get ready for a wild ride!
August 26, 2017
If you enjoy a bad ass under dog who is forced to defend himself against all odds, this movie is well worth your time. The cherry on top is that Arnold pumps plenty of life into his character Ben Richards.
June 6, 2017
In 2017, after a worldwide economic collapse, the U.S. has become a totalitarian police state, censoring all cultural activity. The U.S. government pacifies the populace by broadcasting game shows where convicted criminals fight for their lives, including the gladiator-style The Running Man, hosted by the ruthless Damon Killian (Richard Dawson), where "runners" attempt to evade "stalkers", armed mercenaries, around a large arena, and near-certain death for a chance to be pardoned by the state. By 2019, Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a police helicopter pilot wrongly convicted of a massacre during a food riot in Bakersfield, California, escapes from a labor camp with two resistance fighters, Weiss (Marvin J. McIntyre) and Laughlin (Yaphet Kotto), and finds refuge at a resistance camp headed by their leader, Mic (Mick Fleetwood). Instead of joining the resistance, Richards seeks shelter at his brother's apartment. He finds it is now occupied by Amber Mendez (María Conchita Alonso), a composer for ICS, the network that broadcasts The Running Man. Richards asks Mendez about the whereabouts of his brother, and she says that he was taken for "re-education." Taking Amber hostage, Richards attempts to flee to Hawaii, but she alerts airport security and Richards is captured and taken to ICS. There, Killian coerces him into participating in The Running Man in exchange for Laughlin and Weiss not participating, but learns that Killian had enrolled them as runners anyway. He swears revenge. As the game begins, Richards and his friends are attacked by the first stalker, "Subzero," (Professor Toru Tanaka) but they fight back, with Richards killing Subzero - the first time a stalker has ever died on the show. Then Laughlin and Weiss search for the network's uplink facilities, which they realize are in the game zone. Amber sees a falsified news report on Richards' capture and, suspicious of the media's veracity, does some investigating. She learns the truth about the massacre, but is captured by her own ICS colleagues and sent into the game zone. The runners split up, each pair pursued by a different stalker. "Buzzsaw" (Gus Rethwisch) critically wounds Laughlin, but is killed by Richards. Weiss and Amber locate the uplink and learn the access codes, but "Dynamo" (Erland Van Lidth De Jeude) finds them and electrocutes Weiss. Amber's screams lead Richards to her, and, as the two evade Dynamo, the stalker's buggy flips, trapping him inside. Refusing to kill a helpless opponent, Richards leaves Dynamo alive. He and Amber then return to Laughlin, who, before dying, says that the resistance has a hideout within the game zone. Back at ICS, Killian sees Richards' popularity growing, with viewers betting on him instead of the stalkers. Off-camera, Killian tries to offer Richards a job as a stalker, but, when Richards refuses, Killian sends the next stalker, "Fireball" (Jim Brown). Fireball chases them into an abandoned factory, where Amber discovers the decomposing corpses of the previous seasons' "winners" - realizing that they were killed by Fireball and their victory was faked. Fireball goes after Amber, but Richards rescues her and kills him using his own weaponry. Will Richards and Amber manage to get out alive and clear Richards name?...

"The Running Man" is not one of Arnold Schwarzenegger´s best ones, but the film has it moments for sure. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself thought Paul Michael Glaser was a terrible choice to direct, with Glaser coming from a TV background, and having no film experience as a director at all. He thought Glaser shot this film like a TV show, losing all of the script's deeper themes, and I can only agree with that. The film has a looming feeling of a tv-film all over the production. The film is loosely based on the 1982 novel of the same name written by Stephen King and published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. What I do like about "The Running Man" is the portray of a realistic and futuristic tale of reality TV gone bonkers with a nod to the old roman gladiator games and the thirst for blood and mayhem. The satire is high and the scary message that the Government and the media are in cahoots is something that is always current. Yes, the script has a very typical Arnold formula and we get some classic Arnold one-liners during the film. The action is ok and the ensemble ok, while the production, acting and dialogue is a bit more so so. Nice to see a radiant María Conchita Alonso and a pleasure to see Jesse Ventura going over the top as Captain Freedom.

Trivia: Prior to Paul Michael Glaser being hired as director, executive producer Rob Cohen had hired four other directors in his attempts to make the movie. The first was George P. Cosmatos, who had impressed Cohen with his work on Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985). However, when Cosmatos announced that he wanted to relocate the entire film to a shopping mall, Cohen let him go, feeling that Cosmatos was taking the script in an unacceptable direction. Cohen next offered the project to German director Carl Schenkel, having been impressed with Abwärts (1984), but Schenkel turned him down as he didn't feel comfortable taking on such a large project. Next, Cohen hired Ferdinand Fairfax, based upon his work on Savage Islands (1983). Like Cosmatos, however, Fairfax began to take the screenplay in a direction which Cohen disliked, so once again, he let him go. Cohen then turned to Andrew Davis, having enjoyed Davis' movie Code of Silence (1985). Davis actually got the project off the ground and into production, but only eight days into the shoot, he was already $8 million over budget and four days behind schedule. As such Cohen let Davis go, and ultimately hired Glaser, whom he had worked with on the first season of Miami Vice (1984).
½ June 2, 2017
Arnie action sci-fi classic and another comment on the world we are beginning to live in were reality tv is the major entertaiment
May 30, 2017
I thought this would be a lot worse but I actually found it entertaining aha
May 20, 2017
2017 rewatch. Doesn't really hold up. Concept isn't far off in the 2017 prediction
½ April 21, 2017
Doesn't capture any of the true dystopian themes of the novel, nor does it have its brand of humour. Fails to do sci-fi or "action" well as well.
April 16, 2017
Rating: 58%
Though its cast and set pieces are undeniably impressive, cringy dialogue and a clichéd, boring script let down The Running Man.
April 16, 2017
The Running man is not a good movie. It's not well known for its complex script and characters, or it's incredible acting and directing. It's famous because of Arnold's sheer likability as an action star.

He delivers his lines terribly in this film, showing no signs of emotion. But that's part of the fun, he still does a great job in the action sequences and just has tons of charisma, it almost seems like it's enough to carry the film. Sadly it's not.

The film is poorly written, doesn't set up a believable world, or have much world building, and is haphazardly directed. The special effects in the film also look very dated.

If you wanna see Arnold kill people, blow stuff up, and spout cheesy one liners (this film does have quite a few) there are far better choices available. Skip this one.
½ January 4, 2017
An entertaining Arnie movie that never tries to be anything more than what it is. Pure, straight-forward sci-fi escapism that manages to do pretty well to look as good as it does given it's budget. Not amongst Arnies best but far from his worst.
December 26, 2016
The Running Man has your typical Schwarzenegger fun, along with a fun story- but the film just feels lacking compared to other Schwarzenegger action flicks. There's some good commentary, not so good characters, and lovely 80's moments.
½ October 30, 2016
One of Arnold's best. Nuff Said.
½ October 7, 2016
Every time I watch a movie of this kind, let's say scifi although not heavy scifi, from the eighties, I always find those atmospheres that make it so classic. I don't know if it's a plus or a minus, maybe the second because it signals a lack of unicity in the product, but I like it a lot. Also in this case, although probably the movie was not that good, surely increased my opinion on it. Another plus is because in that period they always tried to create something new, and most of what came after has been inspired by late eighties movies.
½ September 30, 2016
Cheesy from the get-go, "The Running Man" is a masturbatory Arnie vehicle that has earned it's cult status for being funny when it wasn't trying to be. It's more '80's novelty than it is good film.
September 10, 2016
The definition of an 80's Arnie action movie, with all the gruesome deaths and cheesy one-liners you can handle.
August 20, 2016
It's cheesy, it's charming, it's over the top, it's exactly what you expect from an 80's action film with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The characters in this film besides the lead Ben Richards are underdeveloped, the story is as unbelievable as is standard for a concept like this, but in the end there is something about this film in which it's cheesy campy 80's nature doesn't detract from it too much. You won't be missing much by skipping this film, but if you're an Arnold fan you must watch this for his cheesy one liners alone.
August 12, 2016
A Schwarzenegger classic, but small compaired to other of his stuff like Predator (1978), or The Terminator (1984). But still, it's an entertaining and full of action movie, with good performances and pleasant visual effects and this film, especialy during the climax, is really colorful sometimes, but also feels a little saturated. It's not Arnold's main masterpiece, but still. Recommended !!
August 8, 2016
Only 60% approval? This is about as fun an Arnold movie as any.
½ July 29, 2016
good sci-fi actioner
July 11, 2016
The themes in "The Running Man" of media manipulation and the convergence of news and entertainment are even more relevant today than they were back in 1987. However, this is really just a silly action movie filled with dopey one-liners that happens to have a few interesting ideas behind it, mostly thanks to it's source material from the Stephen King novel (written as Richard Bachman) and dos to the blame goes to screenwriter Steven E. de Souza, who brought us countless dopey action films including "Judge Dredd," "Hudson Hawk" and "Streetfighter" (though in fairness he was a writer on "Die Hard" and 48hrs, although those films had several co-writers). Set in a future where convicts are given a chance a having their sentence commuted by appearing on a life-or-death game show, Arnold finds himself wrongly accused of slaughtering peaceful unarmed protesters (Arnold was actually arrested for refusing to gun down the protestors). The TV game show host is played by real-life TV game show host Richard Dawson, and he's one of the best parts of this film. Dawson put Arnold and a couple other wrongly accused convicts (Maria Conchita Alonso and Yaphet Kotto) put against different "Stalkers" which then plays out as game show inspired action set pieces. Some of the Stalkers are played by Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, Professor, and Toru Tanaka. The main weakness of the film is that the action is not particularly memorable or exciting. Directed by Paul Michael Glaser (you know, the guy who played Starsky) the action is competently made, but nothing spectacular. Glaser was apparently called in at the last minute to direct the film when the original direction and producer had a falling out. Another low point is the film being filled will loads of dopey one-liners for Arnold. There are some clever moments in the script, like when Dawson make a phone call and says, "Get me the Justice Department, Entertainment Division." But most of the one-liners are straight of the a Simpsons episode featuring McBain. But in the film's favor, there is an interesting subtext that makes the story a bit more interesting that most 80s action films (i.e. "Cobra," "Commando," etc.). However, this film really doesn't develop or explore those themes to any great extent and the film misses an opportunity. "Battle Royale" basically ripped off this film's premiss and themes, and made a much smarter and also more suspenseful, exciting, and shocking of film. However, to give credit where credit is due, "Rollerball" was likely the real originator of this story and themes of media, violence, power and control back in 1975, though these films also owes a debt to the 1932 film "The Most Dangerous Game" where innocent people were hunted for entertainment and sport. "The Running Man" does feature Mick Fleetwood in his acting debut and you also have a very 80s looking Dweezil Zappa, and underrated crime author Edward Bunker, and Arnold's good buddy Sven-Ole Thorsen playing a character named Sven. There's also a solid Harold Faltermeyer, but overall, this film is a real missed opportunity that could have been done a whole lot better. This is a film that I'd think is ripe for a remake. It's not a classic sacred cow, like trying to remake "The Terminator," but it does have some good material that would be just as relevant, if not more so, today. And if they did it, Arnold should play the Dawson game show host character. Overall, this is a solid story concept that manages to carry dopey script and rather average action sequences.
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