The Running Man

Synopsis: A Game Nobody Survives. This Year Might Be The Exception.

The year is 2019. Television is now ruling people’s lives. The most popular “audience participation” game show is The Running Man-where convicts can win pardons instead of “parting gifts” by defeating murderous henchmen known as “stalkers.” The stalkers haven’t had much of a challenge lately…until Ben Richards (Schwarzenegger) comes along.

The Running Man 4.0

I’ve had one of those weeks, and I decided that I didn’t want something too challenging tonight. So I settled on what I would have expected to be “comfort food” – a mindless Schwarzenegger action piece.

Thing is, I may have enjoyed ‘The Running Man’ when I was a kid, but my perspective has change somewhat since. I’m not sure if it’s maturity or cynicism, so feel free to take your pick. One thing for sure: this is really just a cheesy ’80s action movie like they used to hammer out by the gazillions back in the day: crappy acting, crappy dialogue, crappy sets, crappy action sequences, crappy special effects, crappy music, …etc.

In fact, if it wasn’t for the immovable presence of Arnie’s 260 pounds of pure testosterone, I would have given it an even lower mark. Sure, he’d lose an acting competition against a piece of drywall or John Candy left buttcheek, but he’s got a certain… something. Maybe it’s a primal memory of my cave-dwelling forefathers that’s talking… I don’t know…

All I know is that I’m glad it wasn’t Van Damme in his place. Because it sure sucked like a Van Damme movie. However, if one MUST look on the bright side of a crappy situation, at least he wasn’t in it to make matters worse. Thank goodness, ‘The Running Man’ was not quite ‘Street Fighter’. But it was no ‘Conan The Destroyer’ either.

And that, my friends, says it all – ’cause ‘Conan The Destroyer’ ain’t no ‘Conan The Barbarian’. And ‘Conan The Barbarian’ ain’t no ‘Predator’. And ‘Predator’ ain’t no…

Anyway, it’s a bit of a shame ’cause the setting is strikingly familiar: in 1987’s future, North America’s citizens are in the poorhouse, keeping their minds off their troubles by watching idiotic, frequently cruel ‘reality’ game shows en masse while their government manipulates the truth in an effort to control them. Hmmm… if done at all seriously, or with an ounce of talent, it could have been fun to watch the future actually unfold before one’s eyes.

…and to think that there almost was a visionary Schwarzenegger movie made. Staggering…

What do you think?

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