Runaway Train (1985) The Madness Of Man Portrayed Through A Frantic Out Of Control Speeding Train

Runaway Train (1985) Jon Voight Eric Roberts VHS cassette tape cover action prison film

Day 23 Runaway Train from 1985

Tagline –Once it starts, nothing can stop it!

Who’s our Anti-hero today?
Jon Voight plays ruthless and hardened convict Oscar “Manny” Manheim

Had I seen this one on VHS back in the day?
Runaway Train was for sure added to one of the weekend nights of maxing out the three allowed quota of rental tapes at the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was added along with at least one of the movies reviewed within this month. And quite likely ended up being the best of the bunch.

Runaway Train (1985) Jon Voight Eric Roberts Oscar Manny Manheim

Quick plot run down.
Two convicts escape a maximum security prison and soon find themselves hurtling along, at speed, to certain death on a driver-less train with no brakes. Fighting their own personal demons whilst being pursued by a determined and ruthlessly sadistic prison warden. All made worse with bleak arctic freezing temperatures.

Does the Anti-hero have a day job?
A ruthless bank robber and all round tough hardened criminal and a veteran at prison breakouts.

What’s our Anti-hero special skills?
Looking mean as hell and the ability to be as mad and furious as the runaway train he’s riding.

Anti-hero’s weapon of choice?
Fists, knives, wooden stool, fire extinguisher, honestly anything he can get his hands on.

Anti-hero’s drink of choice?
Manny’s sidekick finds a hip flask of whisky to help starve the bitter cold out.

Runaway Train (1985) Jon Voight Buck McGeehy (Eric Roberts) Sara (Rebecca De Mornay)

Does Anti-hero have a sidekick?
Buck McGeehy (Eric Roberts) is an inmate with a southern drawl who invites himself along for the adventure. Buck is handsome man and prison boxing champ. There’s a kind nature to him, he’s a bit slow or at least punch drunk. He’s a determined man and willing to try his best to impress Manny. Maybe he see’s him as a father figure or maybe just a means to a way out. Either way he strives to be loyal even under constant abuse.

Hot girl? Damsel in distress or ass kicker?
Kind of a mini spoiler I’m afraid but her picture and name is on the cover. Caught on the speeding train is Sara (Rebecca De Mornay). She was being trained up by the driver before he’d suffered a heart attack. The only thing she can come up with is to get to the lead engine and flip the kill switch. Which would slowly bring the engines to a halt. The only problem is there’s no walkway around the engine and the small passageway back door is jammed.  Sara is scared but feisty. She’s willing to stand up to these two alpha males. SaraBoy, I guess you guys picked the wrong train.”

Runaway Train (1985) Jon Voight Eric Roberts Warden Ranken (John P. Ryan)

Who’s the main baddie?
The baddie of the film is the sadistic Warden Ranken (John P. Ryan) a man with a divine hatred for Manny. Obsessed with capturing him and making his life as miserable as humanly possible. Relentless in his desire to track him down and drag him back to the Stonehaven Maximum Security Prison in Alaska. It’s the only thing he can focus on. It drives him, consumes him, eats away at his very soul. Warden Ranken is on the hunt. “God don’t kill them! Let me do it…

Baddies special skills?
Barking orders at everyone. Demanding this and that and getting his way. No matter what the cost.

Psycho baddies rating out of ten? 9/10
He’s completely relentless, with tunnel vision, just focused on his prey.

Anti-hero’s balls of steel and anger ratings out of ten? 10/10
He’s like a rampaging beast filled with rage and testosterone. Angry at the whole world.

Surely it features a training montage scene?
Not today.

Runaway Train (1985) Jon Voight Eric Roberts alsaka unstoppable snow train

Does it feature an impossible mission?
Yeah the chances of surviving this are practically zero! As the train gets faster and different dangers arrive the odds of coming out of this one are very low.

Does the Anti-hero get a chance to show off their muscles?
Not Manny but Buck does in his boxing match. Eric Roberts was looking ripped.

Will I be needing to pause the video player? AKA are there any boobies?
They would poke your eye out if there was in that cold!

Sex scene?
Too blooming cold and impending death puts a dampener on any naughty shenanigans.

Any good totally random surprise scenes?
It’s part of the survival of the escape into the bitter freezing cold but it was pretty random to see Jon Voight naked greasing himself up and wrapping clingfilm around his body. At first I imagined he was gonna squeeze himself down a pipe. Then it click it was for insulation from the extreme cold.

Films body count? Low/Medium/High
Not very big compared with some of the films reviewed this month.

Innocent baddie death rate?
None here.

Explosion ratio? Low/Medium/High?
Could be a big one somewhere along the line.

How many stuntmen probably really died making this film?
This is a section where I normal joke about some crazy death defying stuntman but this time there was an unfortunate accident for real. A helicopter pilot called Rick Holley was unfortunately killed when his helicopter hit a power line on route. The film is dedicated to his memory.

Any cool car chases?
Come on people we got a stampeding juggernaut hurtling along at break neck speed and you want car chases as well. Yeah me too.

Best lines
Manny –I’m at war with the world and everybody in it.

Runaway Train (1985) Jon Voight Eric Roberts Oscar Manny Manheim mad

Random factoid I just learnt...
Well I never knew Eric Roberts was Julia Roberts older brother after all these years!

Any other familiar faces and actors pop up?
John Voight is in two of my favourite films Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Deliverance (1972). Eric Roberts is a movie credits machine!! Is there anyone with as many films in their filmography as him? At time of writing he has 564 credits? About 30 being filmed right now! I won’t list any now but he was nominated for a Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar for his part in Runaway Train..

John P Ryan was Charles Mackley one of John’s gang members Dillinger (1973). Rebecca De Mornay was all crazy in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)…. Plus a few cameo’s from Danny Trejo as a boxer and Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister who I was racking my brains to work out who he was. He played President Lindberg in The Fifth Element (1997)

Production Credits
Runaway Train was made by the Russian director Andrey Konchalovskiy. I’m ashamed to say I don’t know any of his other work! Point me in the right direction if you know what I should be seeing. BUT the most amazing and fascinating thing about Runaway Train is that it is based on a screenplay and idea written by Akira Kurosawa. One of the greatest film makers ever. Seven Samurai (1954) Rashomon (1950) Ran (1985) etc.

Cheese-O-Meter! Low/Medium/High?
Non existent

IMDB score rating – 7.2/10

Wolfman ACTION & FUN rating – 8.5/10

Wolfman over all film rating – 8.5/10

Closing thoughts………………………………………….
Is this one of Cannon Films best movies? Has to be a contender for that award. Especially with the bleak, brutal settings. You can feel the bitter cold through the screen. The menace and danger John Voight’s character portrays alongside the parable of the demon like train shows the madness that can brew inside a man. It’s a deep film.

It was later to be remade as Unstoppable (2010) with Denzel Washington and become a different film all together yet the fundamentals of a speeding train are there. Still a great film but doesn’t have the madness of Runaway Train. Which is well recommended if you haven’t seen it.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts on the films if you want but please don’t feel you need to as I know it’s pretty relentless this month. However, most important, have fun with the movies.

Keep it filmy…. Mikey Wolf.

PS these French and Polish posters are amazing……..

Runaway Train (1985) Jon Voight Buck McGeehy Eric Roberts Rebecca De Mornay french posterRunaway Train (1985) Jon Voight Buck McGeehy Eric Roberts Rebecca De Mornay polish poster

18 thoughts on “Runaway Train (1985) The Madness Of Man Portrayed Through A Frantic Out Of Control Speeding Train

    • Must of been amazing on the big screen what with the massive engine racing through the ice. Superb film making. Oh those sweet days you could just stay in the theater until you got bored. So true of the quality of production.
      WTF!!!! TANGO AND CASH! 🙂


  1. Saw this one when it came out, on a big Cinerama screen, and what I remember most about it is being so pissed off by the ending…I couldn’t believe that THAT WAS IT! Man, was I steamed!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My all-time two favourite train movies are VON RYAN’S EXPRESS (1965) and the original version of THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123 (1974) but I do remember this film and there was a lot to like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gotta be Silver Streak with a jiving Jamaican Gene Wilder in best train film? 🙂 Oh I do so love that film.
      Glen I’ve never seen or heard of Von Ryan’s Express! Looks really awesome and I’ve bumped it right up my list to see this year. Thanks for that. …. The Taking Of Pelham 123 is a perfect 70’s thriller isn’t it. One of my absolute favorites. Been meaning to revisit that. Could not bring myself to watch the remake!
      Maybe I should bite the bullet one day and see the carnage! Didn’t realise Tony Scott had directed it. Gotta be an action fest. Putting destroying a movie I love to one side, it’s John Travolta as the beefed up bad guy that really puts me off.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Give the Tony Scott directed version of ‘PELHAM” (2009) a go. I have it in my personal collection, and with Denzel (Washington) taking the Walter Matthau role as the train controller back at HQ it stands up pretty well.


  3. Superb film. The special effects and action sequences are spot on on a tightrope budget. The acting is fantastic.
    I really like Jon Voight as an actor. He hasn’t always been smart about the roles he’s taken, but if he has a decent script and a director who allows him room to work, he’s top notch. He earned his best actor nomination and should have won. Eric Roberts was superb as well. And director Andrei Konchalovsky did a phenomenal job of taking what was supposed to be a B movie with an absurd plot line and turning it into a little known masterpiece. But all of it would have been for naught if not for Voight. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. In my opinion it’s his best role.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Please forgive my crazy late reply Pam. Lots slipped through the cracks as I was overwhelmed during the month.
      You’re so right on everything you say. Especially true on Voight’s manic role and the film being a little known masterpiece. You are transfixed and pulled in by his performance, just wondering how far they will let him run with his madness and wrath………

      OK the film is really bad and his performance insanely OTT but I liked him in Anaconda where he is pretty much Manny from Runaway Train with a bigger grimace. His upside down smile is ridiculous. hehe what fun.
      Midnight Cowboy with his lost, innocent and naive look has to be my fav Voight but for crazy Voight, Runaway Train hands down. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • No prob, Mikey. You had a crazy schedule with a post per day via January’s action month. I don’t know how you did it. That’s the kind of dedication and discipline it takes to write a book. You could do it, you know.

        Liked by 1 person

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