The Running Man (1987)

Genre: Sci-Fi, Action/Adventure

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Synopsis: Arnold Schwarzenegger takes part in a sadistic game show in a dystopian future where he is hunted down by professional killers. So basically The Hunger Games if it was written by Stephen King…..oh, wait….

Growing up I was a pretty big fan of these sorts of action movies. The sort where you didn’t really have to think about anything, just sit back and relax as Arnie basically kills everyone on screen. I hadn’t seen this movie in about 10 years so I decided to give it go after receiving a new batch of Lemon Haze (it really does smell like lemons!). What resulted was a pleasant couple of hours full of giggles and “insightful(?)” observations.

Before watching this movie, the viewer should be aware that EVERYTHING about this movie is cheesy. It basically follows the path of every clichéd action movie known to man but with an added twist…an 80s twist. The majority of the time watching this movie was spent laughing at how awesome/horrific the 1980s were. I love how this movie’s set in the future but as an 80s perspective of what the future is. It explains why everyone has a perm and why everyone looks like an extra from a Jane Fonda workout video. The 80s motif is best seen with The Running Man dance troupe who were expertly choreographed by Paula Abdul (apparently). They are, without a doubt, one of the funniest things in this movie, especially when they start gyrating on top of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Arnie himself is another source of hilarity. The whole way through I didn’t see him as the action star but as the politician. The thought of an elected official cutting a man in half with a chainsaw balls-up was just too much. Having said that, the movie is not Arnie’s finest acting wise (“It’s not a tumor,” anyone?). For the first few minutes I had a really hard time deciphering what he was saying. To avoid the impression of xenophobia I’m just going to say that was a result of the Lemon Haze. Still, I know Arnie can do better. Thankfully it’s not the sort of role that requires an Oscar worthy performance so I’ll let it slide.

One of the things that really stood out about the movie though was how much it differed from Stephen King’s original. King’s story was a lot more harrowing and brutal and, in a way, a lot more realistic. In the movie Arnie plays a war hero who has his name and reputation sullied whereas in the book the main character is just an average Joe who is trying to win money to pay for his daughter’s medicine. The book was about one man’s struggle to provide for his family against overwhelming odds. Ultimately I think that this would have made for a much more interesting film and it’s a shame that the filmmakers decided to go along a more hackneyed route. I always forget how amazing a writer Stephen King is and I fully believe that he is one of the most influential writers of our time. His books will go down in history as some of the most read and well-written works of fiction…except for the ones he wrote while high on cocaine. Seriously, someone writing whilst high? That’s never going to be a recipe for success.

High-lights:

  • “I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I’m going to ram it into your stomach and break your goddamn SPINE!” Need I say more about the awesome dialogue?
  • The fact that the 1980s ejaculated on everything in this movie.

Downers:

  • The kiss between Arnold Schwarzenegger and his female lead looked border-line nonconsensual. The idea of romanticizing Arnie is enough to melt my face like in the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • I felt that the movie could have been a lot better if it had followed King’s original story a little more closely. Instead it was just a typical action movie.

Summary:

This is a pretty fun movie to watch, although it could definitely have been improved. It requires very little thought and can be enjoyed with friends or on your own. I’d say it works well with all kinds of different strains. Those who tend to favor sativas can appreciate the hilarity of the movie whereas those who prefer indicas need not worry because enough happens in the movie to keep your interest level high. All-around it’s a solid choice.

7/10

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Filed under Action/Adventure, Good, Sci-Fi

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