Runaway Train (1985)

Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky’s second American film, “Runaway Train,” is a gripping and thrilling actioner from first frame to last.

It’s produced by the Israeli moguls Golan and Globus’ company, Cannon, and based on a script by Japanese masetro Akira Kurasawa, who at one point was going to direct but could not get financial backing for the project.

Two prisoners, Manny (Jon Voight) and Buck (Eric Roberts), miraculously escape from a desolate Alaskan maximum-security prison. They hop aboard a speeding train, but the engineer suffers a heart attack, and the train goes out of control.

To prevent head-on collision, the railroad execs decide to derail the train, which would kill its occupants but save the lives of hundreds of others.

Realizing that, Manny tries to jump off the train, only to be talked out of his idea by railroad employee Sara (Rebecca DeMornay). But there’s price to be paid: Manny descends into madness, and prevents attempts to stop the train and rescue its passengers.

Dark and brutal, but vastly entertaining, “Runaway Train” is a fast-moving, well-acted actioner that grips you early on and never let go.

End Note

Konchalovsky is the brother of famous, Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov (“Burnt by the Sun”).

Oscar Nominations: 3

Actor: Jon Voight

Supporting Actor: Eric Roberts

Film editing: Henry Richardson

Oscar Awards: None

 

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Best Actor Oscar was William Hurt for “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”  Don Ameche was the Oscar sentimental favorite in the male supporting category, winning for the comedy “Cocoon.”

The Editing Oscar went to Thom Noble for the drama “Witness,” directed by Peter Weir.

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