REVIEW: “The Running Man”

Posted: March 22, 2009 by Zee in Review

How do I love thee, Arnold Schwarzenegger? Lemme count the ways:

1) Your name is nearly unpronounceable, much less spell-able– yet I spelled it right the first time.

2) You’re the Gubernator of my (mostly) home state, and when you ran against Gray Davis it was the first year I was legally allowed to vote (although I admit I didn’t vote for you, since I knew you were going to win anyway…I voted for the sumo wrestler running against you. My God, it was a wonderful thing to be a Californian that year).

3) You starred in Last Action Hero, possibly the only movie my dad worked on that he liked working on.

3a) As a result of that movie, I have your autograph.

4) You starred in The Running Man.
The Running Man


My God but is this a wonderful, stupid, stupid, stupid movie. Now, I mean “stupid” in the kindest way, but..OH HOLY GOD. No action movie fan is complete without seeing this movie.

There are many things that make this movie a wondrous cheeze-fest. What to say first? The sets that look like rejects from a Queensrÿche video (this movie is so ’80s it will make your hair hurt)? A villain dressed as an LED-studdeed Viking who sings opera while stalking our heroes in what essentially amounts to a Shrinermobile? The fact that the heroine hid the MacGuffin in her no-no bits? The fact that the movie stars both Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil freakin’ Zappa?

Honestly, my favorite bit about this movie was the MacGuffin. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, I will let Alfred Hitchcock explain it:

“[We] have a name in the studio, and we call it the ‘MacGuffin.’ It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is almost always the necklace and in spy stories it is most always the papers.”

Essentially, it’s absolutely nothing except a device to move the plot forward. Think of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction– that is a MacGuffin.

Now, I shall not elaborate on what the MacGuffin is exactly, in this movie, but I will touch on it. It is a cockpit film that records a confrontation Ah-Nald has with his helicopter crew, in which he asserts he was the Moral Outpost in a Sea of Indignity (etc) and he Repressed By the System (etc x2). Why do I love this little film reel MacGuffin so?

At one point, this cockpit recording films the events from Ah-Nald’s point of view It is not a cutting-to-the-POV shot. It’s firmly established that is is an “observational” camera…recording from his POV.

Think about that for a moment.

Then realize how much I love this movie.

  1. There you go! It’s great to see you getting back in the swing of things dispensing your irreverent punches o’ wisdom.

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