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Lanvin runs, Piccoli cynically emotes and Cremer oversees a deadly game show
Gérard Lanvin plays the athletic man who is running for his life and a million dollar prize if he beats the team of five hunting him with guns. The time is the future when reality television includes a new of kind of gladiator contest: lose your life if you do not win. The chase scenes are well done and realistic. One sequence atop a building under construction with a helicopter hovering nearby looks real and might be.
Michel Piccoli has a great and very well-written part as the star and announcer of the show. His character controls the show's emotions, rapidly shifting from one state to another that might be completely contradictory to it and carrying the audience along with him. Piccoli's cynical manipulations that look genuine are the thematic heart of the story, shedding light on modern society and mass media. Behind him in his office is the head man, Bruno Cremer, who coolly evaluates and negotiates every major turn of events. In between is producer Marie-France Pisier whose moment of seeming sympathy for Lanvin gives way to merciless cynicism. Also coming in for baring are the motives of the hunters of the frustrated lower and lower middle classes, as well as those from various walks of life that Lanvin encounters on his run for life and money. This includes his own marriage and his own aspirations.
It is through the lens of these social exposures that this film far surpasses the 1987 "The Running Man" in richness of theme. The latter Arnold S. film operated from an entirely different premise, and its strength was more in the design of the film, its technology and the raw battles taking place.
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