Running from its problems

Nicholas Cage dons his sketchy Louisiana accent for this hyper cynical political melodrama, the script screaming injustices concerning the BP Deep Horizon oil spill. Cage’s delivery as Democrat Colin Price is strictly on the actor’s ever more consistent B-level, growing weaker by the written lines themselves.

Runner is not a film about political processes, rather the irritation with how they’re portrayed and manipulated for profit. Price is an impossibly clean “man of the people,” sunk by infidelity as the film registers ludicrous direct comparisons to JFK. The frustrations, started by a slanted media reporting about cheating political figures instead of wide ranging problems from the spill, are genuine. In this narrative though, they’re just bait.

The film lacks insight. It’s begging for authenticity. A slippery first act is of no help, whipping between plot devices, alcoholism, Coast Guard photo ops, and sexual encounters. Explicit uses of real world disasters – including a multi-time name dropped Katrina – ultimately fall false against a lead character offering limited engagement in his mid-life, affair addled crisis. A visible budget pinch is simply added battle damage.

… weight is lost on Price’s private life, the same private life Runner appears to be against exposing.

Price turns away from politics after being disgraced and into a co-op to assist local fisherman battle BP.
To its credit, Runner is not a film which is kind to the oil giant. Runner exists to brutalize the company for negligence, all through Price’s eyes. However, that weight is lost on Price’s private life, the same private life Runner appears to be against exposing. It’s exploiting its own ideas in a weird, oblivious expose. It wants audiences to care about Price’s woman swapping more than the crisis, but lambastes media outlets for doing the same. How hypocritical.

By its closing act, Runner gives up. Corruption wins because corruption always does, even against those who seem to be above it, becoming utterly derisive about American politics. Price, flawed a character as he is, ultimately chokes on pressure. His reasons for shifting allegiances are not a question of character – Price is caught in a trap of a crumbling marriage, financial stress, and a loss of family. Investors see an opportunity to jump on a weakened candidate. It’s cruel. An indictment of the system? Yes. But of politicians themselves? Not really. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]

Looking worried @ 1:25

While burdened by a small budget, Runner is an absolute stunner on Blu-ray. Produced with a noticeable and even thick grain structure, sharpness is evident in every shot. Every line is perfect. Exteriors are dazzling in their definition, with Louisiana fully exposed building by building.

Close-ups are superior to many. High frequency information is resolved in a way few films even attempt to. Facial clarity proves to be a highlight no matter the distance involved. Other than minor instances of stock footage – used to sell the authenticity of the oil spill – Runner does not lose these qualities.

This is all assisted by contrast, rich in density. Black levels are gorgeously done with preservation of shadow detail of clear importance. While whites can be hit by the color timing, their weight is not lost.

And that color timing is the only bother, an oftentimes oppressive rut of blues and oranges. No scenes escape those tints. People have lightly blue teeth because of the correction work. It looks ridiculous, an attempt to drown the film with mood but instead only make it look pedestrian. Still a great looking film from a technical perspective. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Video]

Runner’s TrueHD mix opens with a boom, the oil rig’s blast hitting the LFE which won’t activate much afterward until a crash in the closing moments. Audio work better indicates budget restraint than the visual side. Little is done with the surrounds. A brief round of rain and a little touch of ambiance inside an airport terminal is the extent of the disc’s presence.

The rest is supported by music, which during one dramatic moment, seems to sit entirely in the rears rather than the stereos. Maybe it’s years of conditioning to a different way, but the effect proved disorienting. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]

No extras here other than the trailers which play when the disc is inserted. [xrr rating=0/5 label=Extras]

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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