[REVIEW] Runaway Train (1985) – ManlyMovie

[REVIEW] Runaway Train (1985)

This movie is kinda like Lock Up with Stallone and Sutherland, where the Warden is nuts with an irrational hatred of an inmate.  Though that movie never left the grounds of the prison. Here, the inmate escapes with the prisons local Prize Fighter and takes the feud on the road to battle the elements and board a ‘Runaway Train’.  Oh, and by the way his Prize Fighter partner is Eric Roberts.  Its always good to remember Roberts was once in movies like this and the Best of the Best, no wonder Sly cast him in The Expendables. Disaster movie mixed in with escaped convicts?  A recipe that’ll work well with a six pack.

In Lock Up the Warden was nuts with an irrational hatred of the inmate.  Only in this movie, the inmate is nuts too. After being welded into a 6×6 cell for three years, the door is opened to show unhinged nutjob Jon Voight doing vigorous push-ups, like his time in there was nothin’.  Unsatisfied that his victim looks stronger than ever,  the Warden recruits a thug to stab Voight that same day.  Within hours Voight is stabbed twice yet despite being the victim ends up chasing the attacker armed with a stool.  He even appears to be enjoying himself.  C’mon, how can you not like this guy?  I’m not sure how much of this is ‘acting’ for Jon Voight either.  Eric Roberts is actually funny the whole way through this movie, too.  Normally comedic sidekicks are shit.  But here Roberts entertains with ease: “Hey Sweetheart, how would you like a really good fuck! Huh?!” 

Is it sane practice for the Warden of a prison to hang off a helicopter at 200 feet above a train in an attempt to catch an inmate to murder him?  Probably not, and thats part of the fun here. This is a gritty film.  Other than the correlation between Voights character and the runaway train, its relatively honest.  I like that the Warden is openly enjoying the chase and plans to kill off his opponent. And that the cons are just cons, too.  They haven’t been wronged or are seeking justice and are basically enjoying the ride.  The discussion on how to use their freedom is limited.  When presented with the idea of cleaning toilets for a living, Roberts responds with “Not me!  No way, I’d rather go to fucking jail.”.  And I like a good straight forward screenplay like this, as opposed to the lamenting and contemplation between the likes of  Washington and Pine in ‘Unstoppable’.  When it needs to, it’ll hit hard with brutality.  And its actually a pacy film too.  Unlike most disaster flicks, its exciting.

And look closely, you’ll even spot Danny Trejo.