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Well-Filmed Sci-Fi Adventure Movie!
on August 16, 2002
In this wry and entertaining take on a world gone crazy, where corporate rulers routinely engage popular sport activities to distill public anger and frustration and to try to distract common people from civic unrest, we find perpetual everyman Arnold Schwarzenegger caught in the vise-grip of official lies when he escapes from maximum security prison only to be caught and selected as the latest "contestant" (read `intended victim' here) for the overwhelmingly popular television program called, appropriately enough, "Running Man". The point of the game is for the contestant to survive being hunted down by a sewerful of villains while trying to make his way through a nightmarish maze. The villains are a bit campy, ranging from an outrageously garbed electric man who dispatches virtual lightning bolts to fry his prey out of existence to a chainsaw freak who attempts to hack his victims to death while riding his motorcycle.
Yet the action sequences more than make up for the sometimes-silly dialogue. The supporting cast is composed of veterans like Richard Dawson as the venomous game-show host and producer, who manipulates every aspect of the game to reach the storyline he has laid out. There are also a lot of cameos here, from Mick Fleetwood as a revolutionary to Jessie "The Body" Ventura as a sports commentator to Jim Brown as one of the slayers. The special effects are well done, and the action sequences provide plenty of vicarious violence for the moviegoer. Of course, Arnie has a waft of throwaway one-liners, and we know we are in the hands of experience when he tells Dawson the "he'll be back". Dawson, of course, not knowing whom he is dealing with, blows off the threat.
But the moviegoer knows Arnie will be back, and that he will win the day. This is not an intellectually satisfying film, but it is a good, sold action adventure based on an early story of Steven King's that will keep you amused and entertained. It provided one of a series of sequential hits for Schwarzenegger, and helped to cement his reputation as a bankable superstar. Great stuff for wiling away a snowy winter day. Enjoy!