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Running Man, The

Entry updated 10 February 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1987). Taft Entertainment/Keith Barish Productions. Directed by Paul Michael Glaser. Written by Steven E De Souza, based on The Running Man (1982) by Richard Bachman (Stephen King). Cast includes Maria Conchita Alonso, Richard Dawson and Arnold Schwarzenegger. 101 minutes. Colour.

In a near-future, semi-totalitarian, economically crippled USA, a framed cop (Schwarzenegger) is forced to star in the top-rating television game show The Running Man, in which "criminals" are tracked by television 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" (May 1958 F&SF). 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. [PN]


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