Theresa Russell stars in RUNNING WOMAN, an above-average made-for-video thriller produced by Roger Corman. The film was disguised in its promotional materials as a murder mystery, but is actually a disturbing drama dealing with racism, civic corruption, and the dark side of contemporary
After working on a painting at a Hispanic church in East LA, art restorer Emily Russo (Theresa Russell) drives home with her young son Sam (David McCurley). Emily is pulled over by a police car, but the drivers turn out to be carjackers in disguise. Emily fights with them and gets away, but falls
off a highway overpass and Sam is shot and killed during the struggle. Emily wakes up in the hospital and is questioned by Capt. Gibbs (Andrew J. Robinson), who comes to regard her as a suspect after a gun is found outside her condo which matches the bullet holes in her car. After being released
from the hospital, Emily goes undercover in disguise and tells her story to her ex-husband John (Gary Graham), a newspaper reporter.
Emily then goes to East LA and uncovers evidence of foul play involving a defense contractor and philanthropist named Dayton (Christopher Pennock). She learns that Dayton is saving money by burying deadly nerve gas in various Hispanic churches and housing projects, instead of incinerating it, and
that he ordered the fake carjacking which killed her son because he was afraid she would discover traces of the nerve gas on the church painting she was restoring. Emily sneaks into the church and is caught by Gibbs, who tells her he's working for Dayton and that he's doing it in order to kill off
Hispanics who will grow up to be criminals. Emily manages to escape and tells John about Dayton, but after fleeing to San Diego, she learns that John's expose of Dayton has been killed and she sees a TV report announcing that 15 more Dayton housing projects will be built.
Boasting a complicated narrative dealing with such social issues as gang violence, missing kids, carjackings, the exploitation of minorities by big business, police brutality, and the environment, RUNNING WOMAN is highly atypical made-for-video fodder. It's not always successful, as the plot is
often murky and contrived, but it's thoughtful and its heart is in the right place. Perhaps the most startling aspect of the story is how it unflinchingly faces up to LA's Hispanic "problem," making the clean-cut Gibbs a Mark Fuhrman-like fanatic who practices ethnic cleansing and is backed by a
revered philanthropist billionaire who's friends with politicians and celebrities. That the bad guys get away with it and plan to continue more genocide at the film's end is also fairly shocking. Theresa Russell, a long way from THE LAST TYCOON (1976) and BAD TIMING (1980), is not a particularly
convincing action heroine, but she's quite good at conveying maternal anguish, and still looks great in a variety of wigs and disguises. And it's always fun to see Andrew Robinson, whose racist cop is almost as chilling as his legendary psycho killer in DIRTY HARRY (1971). (Violence,profanity.)
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: R
- Review: Theresa Russell stars in RUNNING WOMAN, an above-average made-for-video thriller produced by Roger Corman. The film was disguised in its promotional materials as a murder mystery, but is actually a disturbing drama dealing with racism, civic corruption, an… (more)