Somehow one leaves aside the blatant implausibilities, the coincidences, even Eric Roberts, and takes great pleasure in a breakneck ride to the end of the line. And Voight has finally found his niche, abandoning all those wet-eyed liberal roles and playing to the hilt a hideous, raving beast, with scars. Great ending, too.
The movie comes to rest on Voight and, to a lesser extent, on the views of the train itself, which looks great thundering through the snow. Voight is nearly as impressive in appearance, tricked out with some menacing scars and a gold tooth, and he gives his part a reading quite unlike his previous work. [22 Jan 1986, p.D7]
Not every movie -- even one based on an unproduced Kurosawa screenplay -- has to be about Life itself. Oh well, enjoy it for the thrills, and don't worry about trying to keep a straight face. [30 Dec 1985, p.62]
Paul AttanasioWashington Post
Runaway Train isn't just bad -- it's bodaciously bad, grotesquely overblown, lurid in its emotion, big ideas on its brain. And anyone with a taste for camp will have a glorious good time. [20 Jan 1986, p.C4]