The Running Man is considered a big disappointment to fans of director Carol Reed's The Third Man, who rightfully consider it a step down from that classic. Some even go so far as to claim that Running proves that Reed was really nothing more than a competent filmmaker who "lucked into" projects like Third Man. This view overstates the problems with Running, which looked at objectively is a more than adequate little thriller. Reed has to contend with a script that stretches credulity in some of its plot points, but for the most part it's a solid little effort. Where Reed and Running fall down a bit is in a certain tentativeness that creeps in to the piece; it doesn't prove that Reed was just an average director, it merely supports the view that his firing from Mutiny on the Bounty unnerved him and made him unsure of himself. Running works perfectly well, but it doesn't have the assuredness, the directorial cockiness that is needed to make it take off like a rocket. It does have a typically engaging performance from Alan Bates, a somewhat off-putting one from Laurence Harvey and a commendable but slightly lacking one from Lee Remick. It also has some glorious cinematography from Robert Krasker, carefully composed shots, fine use of locations and a nicely ironic ending. All in all, not great but more than sufficiently entertaining.
by Craig Butler review