Runaway Bride, Runaway Train

Runaway Bride (1999) **1/2 Julia Roberts can raise the quality of any movie just by walking across the screen. That ten thousand-watt smile has ‘glamorous movie star’ written all over it, but she still seems to carry herself as if she were an Everywoman, and that’s a true mark of an actress. No mere pretty face, she!

Her costar, Richard Gere, doesn’t have that same quality. How many movies can you name in which Gere plays an arrogant, self-satisfied jerk? You’d spend a long time counting them all up. It’s this lack of depth that prevents “Runaway Bride” from being as good as deserves to be.

By now, you know the plot. Roberts can’t commit to anyone, so she’s made a practice of dumping her hubbies-to-be at the altar – hence her ungainly monicker, “The Runaway Bride.” Gere, a arrogant, self-satisfied reporter for USA Today, gets a wind of the tale and writes a snotty, scathing piece in his column. (How this man even GOT a column with his ethics and reportorial style is an ageless mystery!) Naturally, Roberts complains and the hotshot is summarily fired – by his ex-wife, no less. He follows up by visiting Roberts and basically harassing her and her family and friends. Somewhere in all of this we’re supposed to find him a little endearing, as if he’s out to prove something. Prove something? He acted like a complete and thoughtless jerk, and we’re supposed to pity him? If Julia’s character were really smart, she’d have gotten a restraining order against this beast.

Runaway Train (1985) *** Manny and Buck have just broken out of prison and have stowed away on a four-car locomotive in Alaska. Problem is, the engineer died of a heart attack as the train was departing the station and fell off – so now they’re all alone on this train, careening through the wilderness over 80 miles per hour, with no way to stop it. Sound like fun to you? It’s a rare action movie, one that basically takes place on one location (the train). But it’s amazingly suspenseful, too, as railroad officials (who don’t know of their stowaways) try to find ways to stop the unstoppable vehicle (shades of “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three”).

Jon Voight plays Manny, the experienced jailbreaker, grizzled, ornery, obnoxious, but revered by his fellow prisoners. Eric Roberts plays Buck, the young, cocky, dimwitted tough guy who respects Manny and looks to him as the voice of reason. Also thrown into the mix is Sara (Rebecca De Mornay), a railroad worker who was taking a catnap when the runaway train started its journey. How will these three people stop the train? How, indeed! You know, for a movie taking place on a train, there are plenty of harrowing scenes, and there’s hardly a dull or listless moment. Problem is, you don’t really know who to root for, and there are spots late in the movie where characters change drastically, a sure casualty of a choppy script. But hey, why quibble? If you’re looking for an unusual action movie, here it is!

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One Response to “Runaway Bride, Runaway Train”

  1. Andrea Says:

    Good site. I enjoyed reading your work.

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