Runaway Train (1985)



“The train is a symbol for whatever you want it to be,” the film’s director, Andrei Konchalovsky, explains. “It can be viewed as a prison because they can’t get out of it, or considered as freedom because they escaped from prison on it, or considered as our civilization running out of control because no-one can stop it.”

"The ending of the movie is astonishing in its emotional impact. I will not describe it. All I will say is that Konchalovsky has found the perfect visual image to express the ideas in his film. Instead of a speech, we get a picture, and the picture says everything that needs to be said. Afterward, just as the screen goes dark, there are a couple of lines from Shakespeare that may resonate more deeply the more you think about the Voight character."



Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky's second American film may well be the only existential adventure flick in Hollywood history. 
Two prisoners, Manny (Jon Voight) and Buck (Eric Roberts), escape from a desolate Alaskan maximum-security facility. They hop aboard a speeding train, making a clean escape. But the engineer has suffered a heart attack, and the train goes out of control.
"Runaway Train" is a reminder that the great adventures are great because they happen to people we care about."Runaway Train" is based on an original screenplay by the Japanese master Akira Kurosawa, whose best movies use action as a means of studying character.


"The nihilism and the vicious intensity of Mr. Voight's performance here are entirely different from anything else he has done on screen."
The action sequences in the movie are stunning. Frequently in recent movies, I've seen truly spectacular stunts and not been much excited, because I knew they were stunts. All I could appreciate was their smoothness of execution. In "Runaway Train," as the characters try to climb along the sides of the ice-covered locomotives, as the train crashes through barriers and other trains, as men dangle from helicopters and try to kill the convicts, there is such a raw, uncluttered desperation in the feats that they put slick Hollywood stunts to shame.

 Full review by Roger Ebert


 RUNAWAY TRAIN (1985)


MORE ABOUT FILM


Andrei KonchalovskyreiKonchalovsky
Studied at a music school and subsequently at the Moscow Conservatoire (piano class). At the age of twenty-two he entered the All-Russian State Institute of Cinema, workshop of Mikhail Romm. For one of his diploma works he made the film The Boy and the Dove (awarded the Bronze Lion prize at a festival of children’s films in Venice, 1961). Konchalovsky’s degree work The First Teacher after the story by Chingiz Aimatov took several prizes and awards, including the special jury prize at the young cinematographers’ film festival in Iero and the Volpi Cups for Natalia Arinbasarova who performed the lead role in Venice in 1966 among others.
Together with Andrei Tarkovsky, he wrote the scripts for the films The Skating Rink and the Violin, Ivan’s Childhood and Andrei Rublyov. Also wrote the scripts for Lyuty, Tashkent – City of Bread, The Seventh Bullet, The Fan, We’re Waiting for You, Boy and Tran Siberian Express. In 1972 he was awarded the State Prize of the Kazakh SSR for the script of The End of the Ataman.
In 1980 he was made a People’s Artist of the Russian Federation. The same year he began working in Hollywood (USA). More...