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4.6 out of 5 stars78
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 29 September 2013
This movie may be a bit difficult to get into -- the first part of the movie seems a dreary prison story, and the characters are almost stereotypical, seemingly. It is due to the acting of Eric Roberts and Jon Voigt that one can get through this part. Then, when they manage to hop a train, things get rolling, literally. The 2nd, and main, act of the movie involves the drama inside and outside the train, and this is skillfully done, so that we stay intrigued in these characters. The final act, in my mind, is the final ride of the train, which raises existential questions about freedom and self worth. Make sure to keep the volume up loud, as the music here becomes an actor in its own right -- the movie ends beautifully with the music rising up to its full height.

I first watched this on TV, and even then it was effective. Frustratingly it has never been remastered properly in the U.S. One of the reasons I bought a region-free blu ray player is to watch this and other movies from Arrow -- they have produced a beautifully remastered blu ray: the video makes the movie spring to life (even in the previously murky looking prison scenes) and the audio is outstoundingly clear and powerful. As usual with Arrow, there are also interesting and plentiful extras.

You must see this! Then you will understand why this film has so many quotable lines, even though they sound illiterate in plain text, such as when Eric Roberts' character states, "I thought you was my friend" and "You was a hero," spoken in a mournful voice. A young Rebecca Demornay also does an excellent job as a terrified yet sensible railroad employee. Thank you, Arrow!
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on 18 June 2002
The story of a breakout from a prison in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of winter, which then involves a train is not necessarily the first film most people would choose to go and see.
However, throw in Jon Voigt as the mad "not going back" violent psychopath lifer, Eric Roberts as the dumb kid you fell in with the wrong sort of people and Rebecca De Mornay as the love interest, looking very plain (but you can never hide those eyes) and you have a very well acted film.
Then, add a dash of a train without a driver, a train which is going at full tilt, and then, may be add a mad prison guard hell bent on retrieving his charges and you have a movie that will take you on a train journey unlike any put onto celluloid before.
This is not an action movie, more a movie with a brain, great acting, great suspense, great thrills, and an ending that you should just see.
Movies are meant to change your view on the world, take you to a new place. This does all of that and more.
Treat yourself to this masterpiece, you deserve it.
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on 7 February 2007
Based on a screenplay originally by Akira Kurosawa and directed by Andrei Konchalovsky, this is a harrowing yet strangely moving film. At first sight it's uncompromisingly grim, as it depicts the violence and hopelessness endemic in the prison from which dangerous convict Oscar `Manny' Manheim (Jon Voight) and his not-so-dangerous (in fact rather dumb) fellow convict Buck (Eric Roberts) escape into the snowy wilderness of Alaska. They stow away on board a goods train at a remote station, but as it pulls out of the station the driver has a heart attack and falls from the cabin. The train becomes a runaway which cannot be stopped by the usual process because the automated brakes have failed. It barrels on through the bleak Alaskan landscape, and the only way it can be stopped is for the railway dispatchers to divert and deliberately derail it. But they don't realise that there are people aboard - not just Manny and Buck but railway worker Sara (Rebecca de Mornay)...

Jon Voight gives a superb performance as Manny, hard and dangerous, yet with a kind of morality at his core that is lacking in the sadistic warden, Rankin, who pursues Manny relentlessly, risking - and eventually forfeiting - his own life in the process. One of the film's most memorable scenes is where Manny tries to persuade Buck not to waste his life in criminal activities, but to get a job - even the most menial of jobs - and do it to the best of his ability. Buck asks Manny if he could do that and Manny says quietly, with sadness and a hint of despair, `I wish I could.'

The ending of the film is utterly haunting, as Manny, having saved Buck and Sara by uncoupling the engine (getting his hand crushed in the process) from their car, climbs onto the roof of the engine and stands there, facing his inevitable death as the train thunders on through the Alaskan wastes to its eventual destruction. Knowing that he can never live in ordinary society, he prefers to die rather than be recaptured and imprisoned again. We see his figure, upright on the roof of the train, receding into the distance and becoming absorbed into the falling snow, while the screen shows the lines from Shakespeare's Richard III: `No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore I am no beast'.
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on 25 December 2008
I first saw this film as a young boy in the late 80's and didn't see it again for over ten years, i never forgot the film and it fascinates me even now it is a true film legend that always needs to be seen. Jon Voigt pulled of the most amazing acting i have ever seen, Will always be my number 1 film. Runaway Train
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Runaway Train is an incredible and unique film. A three-times Oscar nominated quick-paced action movie with an existential script but financed by the same cheap-tat label that brought us the Chuck Norris dross and Death Wish sequels of the '80s - and yet, it could be the deepest action film ever recorded onto celluloid. Not only does it work as a straight all-out action thriller about two escaped convicts unwittingly hiding on an out-of-control locomotive, it's also a study of the destructive nature of the male version of the human animal, directed, written, played, edited, and photographed superbly all the way to its haunting climax.

The Arrow Blu-ray itself is very satisfying, the picture being excellent while just falling short of today's ultra-sharp 1080p standards. But the sound is really what marks this out. With the main action taking place on and around the booming train, a rich, lossless track is what's needed here, and this is what we get. The audio is cracking.

Voight & Roberts are excellent as the two escaped cons and fully deserved their Oscar nominations, and John P. Ryan does a great turn as Ranken, Voight's prison governor nemesis who personally goes in pursuit of them. But there's a flipside. The director made a big casting mistake with Rebecca De Mornay in the role of the 'stowaway' rail engineer. In one of the four lengthy bonus interviews, Andrei Konchalovsky states he was courted by Jodie Foster, who badly wanted the role, but told her she was too beautiful to be believable as an engineer working on the desolate and harsh railroads of deepest Alaska. What an error! Not only is Foster a more accomplished actress than De Mornay, De Mornay has always been incredibly beautiful and feminine (even here with dirty hard-hat & overalls, yet striking blue eyes), something Jodie Foster has never been with her stern look and deep voice - both easily passable for a woman doing such a masculine job. De Mornay did okay alongside the two male leads, but she clearly lacks the depth of Voight & Roberts and the thought of Jodie Foster taking that role could have taken Runaway Train into an even greater three-way tour-de-force, not to mention an almost certain fourth Academy Award nomination.

As it is, Runaway Train remains a great film and this is a great Blu-ray with some fine extras, particularly Jon Voight's 40min recent interview and the anecdote of a little Angelina Jolie sitting beside him at the Oscars, consoling her daddy when he lost out to William Hurt.
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on 26 February 2006
This is really a great movie, somewhat stylized in places, but in general a terrific metaphoric ride. The rendition of the main two characters (the convicts) is full of pathos, truth and sentimentality. Yes, these guys are hard nuts, but in essence we are witnessing what amounts to a Greek tradedy unfold here. The climatic relentless elements verses man and man verses man is terrifically paced, and hovering around presides the the notion of technology as a means of lifting these burdens from the sholders of men is proved fruitless in the ultimate test and challenge, which is really a battle of spirits.
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on 8 July 2008
Hard to believe this movie is over 20 years old - I remember seeing it when it was first released and then, as now, was minded that there has never been any other "out of control train" film quite like this one.You actually feel that you are on this metal monster as it powers on through the Alaskan wilderness. Jon Voight gives a great performance and is ably supported by Eric Roberts, who although a little 'hammy', settles in as the plot moves on. The other actors all play their parts well, particularly the hardened prison warden, Rankin (though he does look a bit like Dick Dastardly in the final scenes!). All in all an extremely well made film.
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VINE VOICEon 26 June 2013
Anyone a fan of Tony Scott's thriller Unstoppable will see some of inspiration here.

This 1980's action thriller, delivers on both counts of thrills and tight well filmed action scenes.

Two escaped convicts (Jon Voight and Eric Roberts) jump aboard a runaway train, and there rough and tough characters are put to the test, as they have to eventualluy become heroes and take command of the situation.

Robert's plays the slightly unintelligent and impressionable convict with real emotion, whilst Voight tears up the scenery as a world weary criminal, making his tough but flawed character believable (although anyone who has seen his performance in Anaconda will see similar over acting in certain scenes ).

Rebbeca De Mornay as a train worker stuck on board with the two anti heroes is clearly the rational person and the one to bring balance to the macho posturing of the other two leads.

The real triumph here is the fact the film moves at a cracking pace, with not much action, but when the stunts come they are brutal and realistic.

Overall this is a slightly dated, but thrilling straight forward thriller, that holds up against modern films purely based on the fact that it is so well made, and has a brilliant ending that really is memorable.

Far fetched, yes, dated, yes, but classic film making and it puts a lot of modern thrillers to shame, using a simple story and not having to rely on silly effects, just simple plot and character development.

Well worth a watch.
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This is a great release from Arrow, the picture quality gets a 4/5, and there are loads of Special Features, plus two discs, Blu-ray + DVD, you also get a nice little 37 page booklet, with loads of back ground story's. Oh and a revisable sleeve, with both sides looking nice.

The film is very good with some brilliant performances from Jon Voight and Eric Roberts. Both men have escaped a high security prison, so when they bored a train to freedom, sadly the driver suffers a heart attack, and when the breaks fail, both men are stuck on a Runaway Train, which is picking up speed and heading for many perils ahead. This is a brilliant film with a stunning ending.
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on 18 August 2013
This riveting thriller grabs you within the first few minutes and doesn't let go for the entire running time. Voigt is terrific as Manny, a hard as nails convict who escapes from a remote Alaskan prison with his accomplice Buck (Eric Roberts) and boards a freight train in a desperate bid for freedom . Unbeknown to them, the driver has suffered a heart attack and fallen from the cab leaving the train hurtling uncontrolled along the track and into the wilderness. Meanwhile a brutal prison warden (John P. Ryan) wants them back at any cost, even if it means doggedly pursuing them by helicopter across the treacherous terrain. There's so much to enjoy here, notably some hair raising action footage. This is old school stunt work too - no dodgy FX with miniatures or ropey CGI. The late and, sadly underrated, Ryan (a Cannon regular) gives a wonderful performance and there is also solid support from Roberts and a young Rebecca de Mornay. This is easily the best film Cannon ever produced and the new Arrow blu-ray is the business: much improved picute quality compared to all previous releases and some worthy extras - including a fascinating interview with Voigt whose memory serves him very well for a movie made nearly 30 years ago.
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