Running Man, The


An Enjoyable Arnold Action-Adventure

Main Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Richard Dawson, Jesse Ventura

Director: Paul Michael Glaser

Plot Summary: In the future humanity is chained under a police state, but is kept entertained by cruel game shows. An ex-military man is tossed into the most dangerous game of all and is forced to fight for his life.

Not bad as these things go, The Running Man is another Arnold action-adventure flick, heavy on action and light on character and plot development. But since his movies are genre pieces, well known and understood by all, then only the flavor of the particular movie is different than any other.

And The Running Man isn’t bad. Arnold plays Ben Richards, a military pilot at the beginning of the movie. He is ordered to suppress a bunch of unarmed protesters, and quite rightly refuses to fire upon them. He is attacked by the rest of the crew and taken out. We don’t see the trial, but about a year later he is inside a prison. He and a bunch of others have decided to break out, and they succeed, although a few prisoners and a slew of guards are killed.

Ben then goes to visit his brother, but finds a woman named Amber (Alonso) in his brother’s apartment instead. She knows nothing of the other guy, who seems to have been taken away by the cops, and of course is terrified of the “escaped madman” shown on TV. Ben decides to go off to Hawaii, perhaps less controlled than the main 48. Who knows? Amber betrays him at the airport, however, and Ben is re-captured.

Cut to Damon Killian (Dawson), the host of TV’s most popular game show, The Running Man. Unfortunately ratings seem to have hit the wall, and there is discussion about what can be done. Killian sees Ben on a news clip and, bingo! There go the ratings through the roof, baby.

Ben is given a offer he really can’t refuse, but is betrayed in the end. He and two friends are sent off into the game sphere, where they will be hunted down by various characters for the viewing enjoyment of the masses. Since we know what really happened, we see how perfect editing can make things not real seem real. That, of course, is the point of The Running Man: the government can and will lie to you, so we must be careful. And a rebellion against an oppressive force is good and right.

All good, of course. And the action, where Arnold fights off the various hunters and spouts his usual one-liners, is solid. The plot works, for what it is, and the supporting actors are good, with Dawson’s slimy host a joy to behold. The Running Man is a solid and enjoyable action flick.

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