Blu-ray Review: Runaway Train

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: March 16, 2021
Price: DVD $13.99, Blu-ray $26.99
Studio: Kino Lorber

With a screenplay originally written by the great Akira Kurosawa (Throne of Blood) and adapted by Djordje Milecevic, Paul Zindel and Edward Bunker, celebrated Russian filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky (Paradise) operated in primal mode with tough, taut efficiency and the result, which also peered into the fatalistic emptiness of the abyss, was 1985’s Runaway Trainone of the unexpectedly great action thrillers ever to thunder down the cinematic track.

Jon Voight (Deliverance) and Crimes of the Past‘s Eric Roberts (in ferocious performances nominated for Academy Awards) play convicts – one a savage, hardened bank robber/lifer and the other an admiring miscreant serving time for rape – who escape a maximum security prison in Alaska, steal into a nearby rail yard and stow away aboard the rear car of a train compiled of four conjoined locomotives pulling out on its run. What they can’t see from their vantage point is that the engineer in the lead cab is stricken with a heart attack; he hits the brakes but fails to idle the throttle before falling off the accelerating behemoth, which powers ahead as its screeching brake shoes burn away, rendering it unstoppable.

Konchalovsky shifts among three perspectives: the two fugitives (and a previously sequestered railroad worker gamely played by Backdraft‘s Rebecca DeMornay) struggling to survive their out-of-control freedom ride; the railway dispatchers who become increasingly alarmed when their infallible computers are proven ineffective and they must clear their track lines of traffic to avert catastrophe; and the relentless pursuit of the heinous prison warden (a menacing John P. Ryan) to intercept the train and catch or kill his quarry.

Stunningly shot by Alan Hume (Eye of the Needle)Runaway Train, in Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray incarnation, boasts a previously heard audio commentary with co-star Roberts and film historians/Cannon Films veterans David Del Valle and C. Courtney Joyner, plus a Trailers From Hell installment and the original theatrical trailer.

Buy or Rent Runaway Train

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.