- Name: Ben Richards
- Occupation: Former military helicopter pilot/convict
- Family: Brother (name unknown)
- Allies: Amber Mendez, Mick, William Laughlin, Harold Weiss
- Enemies: Damon Killian, Fireball, Sub Zero, Dynamo, Buzzsaw
- Weapon(s) of Choice: Fists, improvised weapons
- Body Count: 11
- Memorable Quote: “I live to see you eat that contract, but I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I’m going to ram it into your stomach and break your god-damn spine!”
In the far flung future of 2017, America has dissolved into a dystopian state with the government’s only way of keeping the people in check is broadcasting insane game shows featuring criminals in life or death situations. The most popular show is “The Running Man”, hosted by Damon Killian. The show has convicts running through a course based in a destroyed section of Los Angeles and having to battle different “Stalkers”, gladiators with different themes. If the “runner” can survive the course they get their freedom, lose and they’re dead.
Ben Richards is a pilot of a military gunship patrolling Bakersfield, CA when he and his crew notice a riot over food going on in the streets. Richards commander orders him to fire into the crowd but Richards refuses. His crew knocks him out and kills the civilians. Richards is the scapegoat and sent to a labor camp with the title of The Butcher of Bakersfield.
A year and a half later, Richards, along with fellow convicts Weiss and Laughlin, stage a break out and escape from the labor camp following a vicious firefight. The trio arrives in a shanty town and Richards learns that Laughlin and Weiss are members of the resistance against the government from their leader Mick. Richards declines to join and instead goes to try and find his brother. Arriving at his brother’s apartment, Richards finds that his brother is gone and TV music composer Amber Mendez is living there now. Richards interrogates her and finds out his brother was sent for “re-education”. Richards takes Amber as a hostage and they head to the airport as Richards decides to flee to Hawaii. Amber makes a scene and Richards has to flee across the tarmac but is caught by security.
Richards is brought to the TV studio ICS, which broadcasts The Running Man, and meets Damon Killian. Killian tells Richards he would make the perfect contestant. Richards, of course, refuses but Killian tells him that they have Weiss and Laughlin as well and if Richards doesn’t run, they will. Richards agrees and appears on the next episode.
After the elaborate opening, Richards is strapped into the rocket sled that transports the contestants to the course. Before he launches Killian tells him that Weiss and Laughlin are going to be running as well. Richards threatens Killian and is then launched into the course. The trio makes their way to the first area, a hockey arena patrolled by Sub Zero, a Stalker who uses a razor sharp hockey stick and exploding hockey pucks. The three men evade Sub Zero until eventually Richards pries some barb wire from the side of the arena and strangles Sub Zero with it.
The three make it into the main section of the course and Weiss thinks they can find the ICS satellite uplink somewhere in the course and if they take it over, the resistance can broadcast a message revealing the truth to the people. Meanwhile, Amber is made a runner as well when she is caught looking at the footage of the Bakersfield massacre and seeing that Richards is innocent. She meets up with the guys but they are jumped by two more Stalkers, the electrically charged Dynamo and chainsaw wielding Buzzsaw. Richards and Laughlin try to escape Buzzsaw while Amber and Weiss flee from Dynamo. Buzzsaw manages to fatally injure Laughlin but Richards overpowers him and cuts him from the groin up with his own chainsaw. Dynamo kills Weiss right after he gets the uplink satellite codes and tells Amber to remember them. Following Amber’s yelling, Richards finds her and the two run away up a hill and Dynamo, trying to follow in his buggy, flips over. Trapped, Dynamo thinks Richards is going to kill him but Richards tells him he won’t kill an unarmed man.
The two make it into a locker room where they find the bodies of the previous season’s winners. They are charred and Richards and Amber soon learn it’s because of another Stalker, Fireball. Fireball tries to burn Amber but Richards gets around him and severs his fuel line and then sets him on fire with a flare. The two escape the room before he explodes.
Killian, meanwhile, is exasperated and in a last ditch effort, tries to get superstar Captain Freedom to come out of retirement. Following his own personal code, the Captain refuses to go into battle with a bunch of weapons. Killian then uses CG to fake Richards and Amber’s deaths at the hands of the Captain. Richards and Amber see this at the HQ of the Resistance. They then join the resistance in an assault on the studio. Breaking into the control room, they use the access codes to take over the satellite and broadcast the unedited footage of the Bakersfield massacre, along with footage of the bodies of the previous winners. Richards goes after Killian and refuses to listen to his rationale for creating the show. Richards straps him into a rocket sled and launches him into the course at a dangerously high speed, causing him to crash into a wall at the end of the tunnel and explode. Amber, meanwhile, is cornered by Dynamo, who managed to escape his buggy. She shoots a fire sprinkler and Dynamo is electrocuted by his suit. She reunites with Richards and they head out of the studio while Mick and resistance take down the satellite and leave all the screens in the city with a message of “Please Stand By”.
See Richards in Action: