- Movie Rating -

Runaway Train (1985)

| December 6, 1985

Oh boy!  I wanted to like Runaway Train so much.  I wanted to be engaged.  I wanted to be thrilled.  I wanted the characters to break my heart.  I wanted to be along for the ride, but ultimately, I just stepped off and waited for the to be over.

Needless-to-say, it was not from lack of trying.  The plot intrigued me.  Jon Voight plays a convict who has spent a lot of time in an Alaskan prison and is apparently so violent that the administrators have welded the door to his cell shut.  But he’s not going to take this permanent incarceration lying down.  He and his fellow prisoner Buck (Eric Roberts) make a daring breakout through a drainage pipe.

They board a train that they hope will carry them to their freedom but suddenly the engineer suffers a fatal heart attack and they find themselves trapped on the runaway train that is speeding toward disaster.  Naturally, there are law enforcement officials and railroad workers desperate to get the train stopped.  Of course, if this were the only forward momentum of the movie it would be pretty boring.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Runaway Train turns out to be.  The key to the film is the portrait of these two men, and a female rail worker played by Rebecca DeMornay who is also on board, who they are and their problems with each other and with the world.  Some of their moments together are pretty good as when Voight explains the Roberts what the world will be like on the outside of the prison.

But largely I wasn’t engaged.  I don’t know.  Something about this journey didn’t grab me.  I wasn’t interested in the characters or their destiny and I was especially disappointed by the ending which promises something spectacular but peters out in a way that left me feeling disappointed.  Of course, my problems with this movie may be just that, my problems.  There was something distant about what I was seeing, something that didn’t hook me on their journey either inside or on that train.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1985) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Drama