The Running Man (1987)

As a professional UK script consultant, script writer for hire and script doctor with over 20 years experience in UK film and TV (with credits across all the UK networks and on produced and theatrically released UK feature films) I often spend my evenings watching older films.

The Running Man from 1987 is one film I recently revisited over the Christmas period and it stands up rather well indeed.  Set in a futuristic 2017 it portrays a future where media is controlled and a violent reality TV show entertains a brainwashed America.

The film is based on Stephen King short story and be aware that the screenwriter who adapted the story is Steven De Souza (writer of Die Hard and 48 Hours among others).  Once the film gets going and hits its groove it’s actually rather charming, funny and exciting.   And makes some smart points about the media (which are very relevant today – in the internet age).

It’s also nostalgic in a way, for the type of 80s big budget action fodder which we used to go to the cinema to see (or the local video store to rent) back in the day.  This is pretty much a pre-CGI film, and it’s lovely and refreshing to see real stunts, and practical effects, a lot of which, if the film were made today would be done differently (but not necessarily any better).

Watch out for Richard Dawson who was a game show host for many years on American TV.  He plays Killian, the host of the violent reality show which is central to the plot.  Dawson’s performance is brilliant and he gets the snarky, nasty side of showbiz types across while remaining essentially very charming.

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire  and script doctor for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on or hire him on Peopleperhour

His directorial debut Markham will be released in 2019.