Running Man is an action comedy and for my money it's well worth a watch. It’s long and it’s predictable, but it’s got some nice laughs (kind of reminded me a little of 1988’s Midnight Run). It was the first Korean film to be fully financed by Hollywood. Its title pretty much says it all. An ex-convict trying to do right by his attitude-filled smart but mopey teenage son is a mechanic by day and a driver by night. He ends up on the wrong side of a corpse when someone kills the guy he’s driving (who happens to be an international spy) while he’s in the bathroom. Long story short…he runs from the cops. He runs from the killers. He runs from the media. He runs from the Korean National Intelligence Agency. He runs pretty much about 2/3s of the movie. The action scenes are well executed and there’s even a happy ending – unusual for a Korean flick, but this is more comedy than drama.
What I’d like to talk about is a MacGuffin. A MacGuffin is a plot device in the form of an object or a goal or something a main character desires. It’s what’s usually behind the motivation of the action. There’s very little explanation of the Macguffin in the narrative and by the end of the film, it’s sometimes even forgotten about. Alfred Hitchcock was the master of the MacGuffin and Running Man could find itself easily compared to North By Northwest in its plot twists and situations.
In Running Man, the MacGuffin is a picture of the Eiffel Tower the spy emails to the main character’s phone right before he’s killed. We see him embed the picture with a file, but we don’t know what’s on the file. We just assume it’s spy stuff! Somewhere in the movie the file gets decrypted and we forget all about the picture of the Eiffel Tower…thus MacGuffin. Any questions?