Title: The Runner
HTS Overall Score:
Ahh, good old Nick Cage. It’s been quite a few years since he’s been a showcasing action star like he once was, and like many actors of his generation, he has faded into the obscurity of the direct to video market after squandering his wealth. Nick is known for playing characters with a bit of an insane twist to them (overacting seems to come naturally to cage), so I was rather surprised to see cage play a much more subdue and calm character. There’s the occasional angry twitch from him, but other that those small moments, Cage is distinctly more down to earth and a surprisingly relatable character in an otherwise non relatable film. “The Runner” looked like a political thriller at first glance, but upon watching I’d have to re categorize it as an introspective look on a political man’s live after he’s been living a life of self-delusion for his entire career.
Colin Price (Nick Cage) is a Louisiana congressman during the 2010 BP oil spill on our southern border. An idealist to the core he makes an impassioned speech to the senate over their need to help the poor disenfranchised fisherman and other locals who have suffered from the spill. This speech snowballs out of control as Colin and his wife, Deborah (Connie Nelson) sees it as a way into the Senate. Things turn out to be harder than they appear as Colin is not willing to budge on his green energy ways, making him a target of big oil. After it’s been made public that Congressman Price has been having an affair, he’s forced to resign and take up work as a pro bono lawyer, fighting for the same people he was fighting for as a senator.
Without his politics, Colin is a disturbed man, even more than he was when he WAS a politician. Desperately wanting to get back in the game, he continues fighting and clawing and desperately searching for a way back in to no avail. His inability to pander to big oil and make moral compromises seem to be hampering him, as well as the moral compromises that he made which GOT him in this situation. Falling back into alcoholism, and having another affair with his press agent, Colin seems to finally have a way out, but that way out comes at a price, one which he’s been fighting against from day one.
“The Runner” is a bit of a mixed bag. I really was impressed with Nicholas Cage’s performance, as this has been the first movie I’ve seen of his lately where he seems to give a care about his acting. He either ends up over acting to a ridiculous level or looks as bored as he possibly can be on screen, but here he plays a much calmer and more realistic portrayal. Sure it’s still the same Nick Cage, but it’s more tempered and more focused than he’s been in quite some time, which gave the film a much needed pull. Connie Nelson does a solid job as the ice queen wife, and Sarah Paulson does an even better job as Colin Price’s closest ally, and lover.
The acting aside, the script is really where the rough spots lie. At first it seems like we have a “one man against the world” story, with Colin Price fighting the good fight for his people. Sure he makes some moral mistakes with his personal life, but throughout the film he’s lauded as the hero and savior of the common man. Not only that, he IS that person to the core. He loves the people he fights for and serves, as well as the movie itself seemingly backing up his righteous cause. 2/3 of the way through the movie we’re STILL on his side and then it comes down to the last act and we see him falter. Price buckles to the pressure and it’s not focused on that he really has failed. Instead it’s just a matter of fact change that really doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense given that there is so little time to develop this change in the story. Had they spend half of the movie dealing with him coming to grips that he can’t be an idealist in a corrupt world, we have him be the idealist up until the last few moments of the movie and that leaves the viewer sitting there wondering “huh? What just happened”? It’s obvious with that haunted look in his eye at the last shot with the oil executives and his wife smiling smugly at him that he’s had to compromise in a way that he didn’t want to in order to be a politician, but it feels unnatural rushed.
Rated R for language and some sexual material
Alchemy presents “The Runner” with a satisfying 1080p encode that thrive on a slightly desaturated and flat color grading. Fine detail is impressive, allowing you to see every fiber of hair on Cage’s ridiculous toupee’s that he insists on wearing, but there is some softness to the picture that robs of it being razor sharp. Image clarity is consistent and pleasing, with a natural color palette and excellent looking contrast levels. Skin tones are natural and clean, with no signs of digital manipulation to smooth out the wrinkles in an aging actor’s face, or any sign of compression artifacts. Black levels are the best part of this transfer, with inky blacks and exceptional shadow detail.
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track is more than capable of handling the limited action in a political thriller and keeps the majority of the focus on the front sound stage. Dialog is crisp and perfectly clear, located in the center channel. The film’s sound track takes up a good portion of the main’s adding a sometimes tense and foreboding tone to the film, but allows for some limited ambiance to be diffused to the side surrounds. LFE is minimal, but certainly there, adding some low end to the musical score as well as complimenting the natural sounds of an oil tanker explosion at the beginning, or Colin Price running his car into his wife’s garage. Basically, it’s a drama sound track and carries out all the duties of that genre with much aplomb, but also has the limitations of said track since we aren’t fighting a transformer battle or shooting off a billion rounds of ammo. Solid A- presentation.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by “The Runner”. Nick Cage has not been on a good streak lately, and the more down to earth acting job was refreshing despite some of the hiccups in the script. The film is bleak and a bit of a slow burn, but as a rental DTV disc, you can do much worse than this one. Audio and video are well up to modern standards, but the lack of any extras whatsoever is a tad disappointing. Worth a cheap rental if you enjoy political movies or Nick Cage acting NORMALLY for once (as much fun as his overacting may be at times).
Starring: Nick Cage, Sarah Paulson, Connie Nelson, Peter Fonda
Directed by: Austin Stark
Written by: Austin Stark
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, DD 2.0
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 25th, 2015
Buy The Runner On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Cheap Rental
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