Great-ish movies: RUNAWAY TRAIN

Posted: January 11, 2012 in Uncategorized
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A Remake Chronicles Extra by Adam-Troy Castro

Based on a story outline and abandoned by Akira Kurosawa (who was never quite able to make it work, and thus moved on to other things), and directed by russian emigree Andrei Konchalovsky (who, from evidence available on-screen, seems to have had a limited command of english and, for all his masterful use of visuals, couldn’t be trusted to reject the takes where actors placed emphases on the wrong words in sentences), it was filled with wonderful / awful performances, with both qualities sometimes evident in the very same speech. Also, the central problem? As the climax makes perfectly clear, the convicts and female railroad worker trapped on the titular uncontrolled vehicle never were doomed; there was a quite simple way to save themselves, visible from early on, that would have saved them quite a bit of trouble if they’d just thought of it as soon as they realized what their situation was.

None of this matters. It is a splendidly visual feast, and a resonant melodrama, with thrilling action.

The scene you’re about to see is one of the best in the career of Jon Voight (who, I contend, gave what was simultaneously his best and worst performance). The younger runaway convict played by Eric Roberts has just told Voight’s mad dog that he’s gonna go back to civilization, get himself some fine clothes, and go out night-clubbing with all those fine bitches. Voight’s character gives him a reality check: one for the lifetime-achievement highlight reel.

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