Directed by Micah Lyons, from a script he co-wrote with Joey Loomis, The Runners begins on the night Ryan (Lyons) and Zoe Stevens (Netty Leach) lives were flipped upside down when a drunk driver killed their parents. Ten years later, and life is entirely different. Zoe is on the cusp of adulthood, and Ryan struggles to find a balance between being her big brother and parental figure, as she’s making some questionable decisions. A life-altering decision leads Zoe and Ryan down a terrible path, as Zoe is kidnapped and put into prostitution. Now, Ryan will do all he can to ensure his sister’s safety, while Zoe and the other kidnapped victims decide to fight for their lives and attempt to run.
The basic premise of The Runners is fine enough, though it hues incredibly close to the 2008 blockbuster Taken. But, thanks to some clever twists and turns, the screenwriters cause audiences to feel an attachment towards Zoe and Ryan. While the themes and the character development (at least for the siblings) are developed well enough to keep audiences engaged, the writing, as a whole, is weak. Frequently the lines are so incredibly bad that scenes meant to be emotional and touching are ruined and end up ultimately dispassionate. The poor delivery by stilted actors does not help them. Several lines are potentially intended to be ironic, but the inconsistency in the writing and the actors’ poor oversight makes it hard to tell.
“…Zoe is kidnapped and put into prostitution…Ryan will do all he can to ensure his sister’s safety…”
Rhonda Morman’s skinhead character, Cash Money, is the most cliched example of this. She’s the muscle working for the trafficker Marty (Loomis’s character). Her facial expressions, are meant to be intimidating but are absurdly awkward, she walks with too much bravado, and talks like some of the more ridiculous villains in history. If The Runners were an over-the-top action extravaganza, this might not be soo bad. But it is a dramatic action thriller, dealing with a serious subject. Having one of the main baddies verging on the edge of being a cartoon does not work. As the film progresses, Cash becomes more and more annoying with her incessant gum chewing and her inability to do so with her mouth closed.
The other antagonists fair similarly to Cash and fail to intrigue audiences. Marty is one of the least interesting villains I have seen in a long time. Loomis is far too innocent-looking, and his acting leaves a lot to be desired, making it difficult for audiences to view him as evil. The Runners fails to create any real terror within audiences, and those viewers, as hard as they may try, fail to attach themselves to anyone that isn’t Ryan or Zoe.
Loomis and Lyons rely too heavily on their antagonists to progress their film. The dialogue is unappealing and absurd, and there are certain aspects of the film (that if I explained would ruin the movie) that make absolutely no sense. While I think the film has the potential to entertain some viewers, and the filmmakers can find future success, The Runners ultimately fails to triumph. There are some positives to be found though, but it seems that, as a whole, the movie struggles to establish its footing, leaving audiences unhappy with the final product. The potential is clear, but The Runners fails to deliver.
"…the potential is clear, but The Runners fails to deliver."