'The Running Man' Review By JIm Mourgos
I'll Be Back with the Ultimate Reality Show!
Originally written as a Stephen King novel, this film could be considered the granddaddy of reality TV movies.
The Justice Department has an Entertainment Division where they send hardened criminals to participate in the Running Man TV series, hosted by Killian (Richard Dawson, an actual TV host at the time of filming). They send dissidents to participate and they often end up killed by Stalkers while the audiences cheer on and make bets on the outcome.
This dystopian view is quite amazing. The special effects are however reminiscent of Logan's Run in their cheesiness. Still, Arnold getting himself trapped and yet winning against the stalkers, the evil undercurrent that the show gives us, under the watchful eye of Dawson's character, and finally the struggle for freedom against an oppressive government (a bit heavy handedly) makes for some interesting yet thought-provoking moments.
The DVD I had also includes the reality of governments taking over and usurping freedoms, specifically an attack on the Patriot's Act right after 9/11. This piece is quite one-sided and if you're not a believer on conspiracy theories, you can skip this one.
Part of the two-part DVD is a short on the reality show and how it's "here to stay" at least circa 1990s, with interviews by former Survivor stars and how the director of Running Man relates his film to present time reality TV.
Bottom Line: It's a fun film to watch! However the political and opinionated features may be off-putting. Modern reality TV as of 2012 is less pervasive from what I've seen. Not sure if we're headed towards a Roman Gladiator/Coliseum-type reality soon such as the Running Man, but who knows? Recommended.
And don't miss Arnold's first "I'll be back!" line, long before Terminator. :)