Happy 30th anniversary to The Running Man, the classic Schwarzenegger sci-fi action flick loosely based on the 1982 book by Stephen King (under the pseudonym of "Richard Bachman") and directed by David Starsky himself, Paul Michael Glaser. Set in the distant future of... 2017 (*starts snickering) where the U.S. is a police state and convicted criminals are placed in a deadly game show that's broadcast to the public, former police helicopter pilot Ben Richards is wrongly convicted of slaughtering civilians during a food riot in Bakersfield, Ca., gets branded as "The Butcher of Bakersfield" and is placed in a labor camp which he escapes to clear his name. He is captured and taken to the ICS Network where he is forced to participate in the show to fight for his freedom and life in a series of arena matches and evade killers known as Stalkers. The book touches on totalitarianism, economic collapse and America's obsession with violent, sensationalist entertainment in a more thought provoking manner and this film contains those same themes but package within the realm of a campy, testosterone-fueled 80s action flick that might seem counterproductive to the statements the original book make, but it was nonetheless an enjoyable flick chock full of Schwarzenegger's hallmarks like the over the top violent action and his cheesy one-liners that come along with them and highlight the exciting and elaborate arena death matches complete with gladiators with their exaggerated style and the late Richard Dawson having a blast as Kilian, the ruthless head of ICS/host of the show as a twisted parody of himself. Such a guilty pleasure that also manages to be relevant to today's issues.
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