The Running Man

Year: 1987

Production: Taft Entertainment / Keith Barish Productions

Director: Paul Michael Glaser

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Richard Dawson

Screenwriter: Steven E. De Souza

Based on The Running Man (1982) by Richard Bachman (Steven King)

101 minutes; Color

In a near-future, semi-totalitarian, economically crippled USA, a framed cop (Schwarzenegger) is forced to star in a top-rating tv game show "The Running Man", in which "criminals" are tracked by tv cameras as they desperately attempt to escape theatrically dressed assassin-athletes. He turns the tables, violently, as the oppressed masses cheer. The criticism of media exploitation of violence and pain (game shows as the opiate of the downtrodden) strongly resembles that in Le Prix Du Danger (1983), based on Robert Sheckley's short story "The Prize of Peril" (1958). As usual when moralizing about the nasty possibilities of our desire for vicarious thrills, The Running Man exploits the very voyeurism it purports to attack. The satire against the media is crude but well done; the comic-book violence is strictly routine; Schwarzenegger is wooden.

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