Paramount Pictures has officially announced the remake of Stephen King’s The Running Man. Edgar Wright has been given the directorial reins for the project. Wright is best known for his cinematic connections to the glorious tandem of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in movies like Shaun of the Dead, End of the World and Hot Fuzz. He also directed 2010’s sneaky success Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and the 2017 action smash Baby Driver. The latter of which, based on content and style, will perhaps offer us the best views of what we can expect for his upcoming The Running Man movie.
The Running Man story penned by King (writing as Richard Bachman), is a time-clocked dystopian survival story. Ben Richards is the main character, and he’s had about enough of the world as he knows it. Richards enters a game show which mirrors The Most Dangerous Game: contestants are released into the world and are hunted until death. The contestants secure money for their families based on the length of their ‘run,’ with bonuses included if they manage to dispatch any of the hunters. Richards is up to the task, but he soon discovers the deck is stacked against him. The game is rigged, and Richards has to find a way to make it fair again.
During his run, Richards bounces from city to city, fleeing hunters and frantically staying one step ahead of this impending death. Sometimes he’s given help and sometimes he has to take it, but he observes critical differences in the classes and cultures and the power of the media as he moves through. The travels and lessons learned by the main character function of the story is a critical element of road literature, and when coupled with the plot’s action and violence, The Running Man morphs into a genre of writing all on its own. The genius of Stephen King is on full display.
Of special note, The Throckmortons, a poverty and illness-stricken family that assists Richards because they know the score is ‘ought to naught’ are a chance for Wright to showcase his obvious talents with creating fantastic side characters. The Throckmortons are the moral compass for the reader, and when Richards finds himself in their care, we get to make our own choices about what’s good and fair in the world. Wright has to explore this aspect of the story, especially with the richness of the characters present in this family. He achieved perfection with Jamie Foxx in Baby Driver, and I am very excited to see how he will include and cast the Throckmortons in the upcoming film.
The original The Running Man film released in 1987 is a circus action film that begins and ends exactly how every action movie made in 1987 begins and ends: larger than life villains finding industrious and hysterical ways to perish as the main character faces insurmountable odds, only to surmount them at the last second with some fancy footwork and violence. It’s a lot of fun, but topical and unrelentingly predictable.
King’s The Running Man is tight, action-packed, and full of social commentary on the abilities of those in power to remain in power by any means necessary. It’s a gritty, everyman’s race against time and tyranny, made better by King’s unusual brevity and selection. There’s not a lot of wasted words, a strategy made more impactful by the use of backwards counting chapters — the reader knows Richard’s clock is running out. An immense setting of the entire eastern United States is accessible to the reader by King’s use of micro urban landscapes. It’s some of his best work. We’re counting on Wright to take advantage of this fantastic cinematic canvas created by the GOAT Stephen King and deliver a film worthy of the literature it’s based upon.
At this time, we don’t have any information on casting or release dates for The Running Man, but check back with MovieNooz on the daily to never miss a Hollywood story! You can follow me on twitter at @AaronKatzmarek!
Image courtesy of Signet Books and TriStar Pictures