A hardened convict and a younger prisoner escape from a brutal prison in the middle of winter only to find themselves on an out-of-control train with a female railway worker while being pursued by the vengeful head of security. Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
Production Manager Stephen Marsh has said of this film's production, his second movie: "Yes I remember making that picture many years ago. We had to start by shooting all the second unit footage in Alaska and Montana. That meant that we had two sets of engines that did not quite match so we had to disguise them with plywood, paint and pretend snow. The main body of the picture was shot in Los Angeles. We built two of the units on stage and shot using back projection techniques. We also built the whole train two more times in two scales of miniature. These miniatures worked for the crash scenes which we shot in a disused winery in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Once all this footage was cut together I think you will agree that the illusion was quite complete. I made one more picture with this director, Andrey Konchalovskiy, it was called Shy People (1987) and we shot it in the swamps of Louisiana!". See more »
Before and while the train crosses the Seneca bridge, the words "Alaska Railroad" above the tunnel portal appear and disappear between shots. See more »
[while talking with Manny about Buck]
He's a pretty good youngster. Besides that, he pushes the laundry cart.
[followed by Jonah and Manny laughing out loud]
See more »
The stock title promises action and suspense, and we get that, but with a story by Akira Kurosawa, expert direction by Russian émigré Andrei Konchalovsky and superior lensing by Alan Hume, we get a study of what defines a man.
John Voight and the vastly underrated Eric Roberts play two cons who escape from a hellish gulag and board a train with no driver. Their struggle to stop the train and battle their own inner demons is the movie.
Konchalovsky creates a cold, alien, ethereal world inside the train that, in the oddest way, provides a haven for self-examination for the two leads. Rebecca de Mournay is layered into the mix, as is the indefatigable John P. Ryan as a prison warden who risks death to return his charges to custody, but the movie belongs to Voight and Roberts who both bring tremendous humanity to their finely sketched characters.
The final image is as powerful as cinema gets and marks RUNAWAY TRAIN as a modest masterpiece.
Though often criticized for producing cheap rubbish, the Cannon Group, in fact, also produced many fine films including this, 52 PICK-UP and MARIA'S LOVERS (also Konchalovsky).
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