The Running Man (1987)
Initially I wasn’t going to talk about this film, think it was just a throw-away action film with Arnie showing us how it’s done. Then as I began to watch I saw something more.
When ex police officer Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarznegger) in a police state in a now not-so-distant future begin his escape from a prison camp that keeps you penned in, with the threat of getting your head blown off, literally. Along with two other men, he makes a break for freedom, something that is rare in a country that is so heavily regulated by the government and police who keep a watchful eye on the public below. With television strictly controlled by the government, including the biggest show The Running Man (1987) in which convicts are sent on four missions to redeem themselves. Up against some of the most dangerous characters that are unleashed against them. Sounds familiar in the wake of The Hunger Games which has moved the action to centre of children (obviously there is more to that than I know)
With Richards now on the loose he finds his old apartment which has just been let to Amber Mendez (Maria Conchita Alonso) who is a classic member of the public who has been brainwashed by the government, until she meets the old tenant who at first uses her to flee the country. When that fails he lands himself with very little option to appear on the most popular game-show, presented by a confusingly camp Damon Killian (Richard Dawson) who loves all the attention, driven by his status as a celebrity and everything that comes with the cliché of being a public figure. He is the face and drive force behind this most disturbing game show that encourages an audience to take pleasure in the death of it’s contestant. Made easy by the fact they are convicts who have apparently committed the most terrible crimes. Unable to argue with the facts that the audience is presented by the government drive programme the public believes that Richards killed countless people in a massacre, something that us as the audience know didn’t take place.
A world where constructed ideas are presented to the world as facts, using the technology available to them for entertainment and control. In a form that is both entertaining and sending home a terrifying message. The film has dated yet the ideas of digital manipulation have really come to fruition, in the form of C.G.I and air brushing, any image is possible. Not used in such extremes for control. It’s a gruesome film made very watch-able by Arnie’s presence who as the “Everyman” fights the systems, (with a little help from his physique) to prove to the world they are being lied to. Which makes us want to question what we told, is that all true, or just diluted, edited and delivererd in a form that we are told is acceptable. Would the truth be too much to handle, would it cause uproar and riots? Let’s try and see.
- Terminator 5` to start shooting in January, says Arnie (indiavision.com)
- ‘Terminator 5’: Everything We Know About The New Movies (moviesblog.mtv.com)