Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in The Running Man, a loose 1987 movie adaptation of Stephen King's novel in which a man is wrongfully arrested and thrown into a sadistic game show taking place in the dystopian future society of 2017.
Here's yet another film which'll make The Hunger Games seem even less original than it already is as poor old Arnie is forced to battle enemies to the death in a modern arena. He plays Ben Richards, a helicopter pilot who, upon refusing to kill innocent civilians, is ruthlessly thrown in jail: the US has become a totalitarian police state and the media single-handedly controls what people think. Richards escapes and attempts to flee to Hawaii using a random woman's ID but the misinformed Maria Conchita Alonso turns on Richards and blows the whistle on him to the police who soon catch him again. He is soon blackmailed into taking part in the biggest game show on TV "The Running Man" hosted by a cruel (and brilliant) Richard Dawson.
This is one of those Schwarzenegger movies that may be flawed and probably too silly for its own good but which is instantly irresistible and great regardless. Like with Total Recall, this is a really entertaining, action-packed sci-fi film with a genius concept and tons of corny yet effective one-liners including the classic Terminator quote "I'll be back!". The bulky lead physically makes sense in the role but acting-wise, with the exception of how happy he is with himself smoking those big cigars, he doesn't exactly nail the more serious moments in the film, his line deliveries coming off as wooden more often than not. Thankfully, once the game starts, he's in full Arnie mode and all he has to do is call a guy wearing lots of lightbulbs a "Christmas tree" and a dude on fire a "hot head".
There's a bit of an Escape From New York vibe with this one with the police state theme and the larger-than-life villains as the Stalkers, the Gladiators-style baddies trying to kill Arnie in increasingly creative ways, are as colourful and over-the-top as can be. From Buzzsaw, a big guy with a chainsaw to Dynamo, a tenor with electrical powers, these guys are all glorious and seeing them fight Richards is a treat. There's a very 80's tone throughout with the choreographed dance numbers opening the game show and the dated future technology which, surprisingly, mostly consists of clunky computers. The plot is simple and it works, even if the whole rebel bunker inside the game show thing is pretty convenient and unconvincing. The film makes the most of its ingenious and memorable premise and that's really all you can ask for.
Overall, I can't not recommend The Running Man, it's just too much fun. Sure it's goofy and very much OTT but it clearly doesn't take itself too seriously. Besides, it boasts such a good concept and everyone involved is so into it that you can't help but love this movie from the get-go.
Subzero may now be plain zero but this movie is 10 out of 10 in my book.