Directed with iron-fist intensity by Andrei Konchalovsky, the 1985 actioner Runaway Train is easily one of the best films to bear the Cannon Films/Golan-Globus logo. There’s just as much devastating personal introspection as there is macho bluster and bloody fisticuffs, with the narrative combining aspects of the prison and train film with a story about friendship, sacrifice, honor, and living life by your own moral code. Starring Jon Voight and Eric Roberts as escaped convicts who board a runaway train that’s careening towards the remote and snowy wilds of Alaska, both actors were Oscar nominated for their wildly passionate performances, and were matched by Rebecca De Mornay as an unlikely railroad worker caught up in the madness.
Everything about this movie feels real and dangerous and forbidding, with the busy yet focused screenplay never taking a rest for a moment; Djordje Milicevic, Paul Zindel, and Edward Bunker got writing credit, having adapted an original screenplay by Akira Kurosawa. Look for Danny Trejo (Heat, Machete) and Tommy “Tiny” Lister (No Holds Barred) in their feature debuts. Alan Hume’s rough and muscular cinematography made terrific use of open and closed spaces, with all of the action centered on the train delivering high-adrenaline excitement that will make your palms sweat, while an early prison riot gets up close and personal in the melee. Trevor Jones’ thundering and operatic musical score is the cherry-topper. The final moments of this film are lump-in-your-throat perfection.