REVIEW: Runaway Train (1985) Blu-Ray – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Runaway Train (1985) Blu-Ray


Runtime: 111 Mins
Rated: R
What To Expect: Jon Voight and Eric Roberts at their best
Buy Runaway Train [Blu-ray] On Amazon

The Movie Itself

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 prison’s 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.  It’s 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 a deranged 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 Voight’s character and the runaway train, it’s 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 it’s actually a pacy film too.  Unlike most disaster flicks, it’s exciting.

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


Disc Release
This is a strong Blu-Ray release, starting with the movie itself.  It’s a ‘solid’ transfer, while not jaw dropping as other Blu-Ray releases, even movies of a similar age (such as the fantastic transfer of Rambo: First Blood Part II from the same year).  Expect to be happy with how it looks but not to be blown away.  It’s as good as it’s probably ever going to look.  The release itself has an old school cover/artwork.  Hand drawn characters, as was the style at the time.  The artwork follows through into the inner cover, offering details and trivia inside too.   The extras include four interviews with Andrei Konchalovsky, Jon Voight, Kyle T. Heffner and Eric Roberts.  These aren’t lazy YouTube ports, as you typically see these days.  These are thoughtful restrospective interviews, totalling around 80 minutes.  The one other impressive addition here is a special book presented inside the case, full of trivia and high resolution pictures.  It was obviously written and created by someone with knowledge and affection for the movie, at 40 pages, it’s jam packed with anecdotes.  Overall a good release, especially for fans of the movie.



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