‘Run Hide Fight’ Is More Focused On Action Than Ideology

Run Hide Fight isn’t a conservative propaganda movie. It’s an action-thriller with a somewhat controversial premise that boasts some conservative values in places. The film also contains elements that are quite progressive. More importantly, it’s an entertaining feature that doesn’t overtly push any type of political agenda. But it’s also a movie that some people will love or loathe depending on their own ideological interpretations of the film. Enter at your own risk. 

The reason I mention this is because Run Hide Fight was distributed by The Daily Wire, a right-wing news outlet co-founded by controversial pundit Ben Shapiro. The brand is joining the entertainment business to combat liberal Hollywood in the ongoing culture war. And Run Hide Fight is the beginning of what they hope will be a cultural revolution that attracts “young adults” to the conservative cause.

The film was also produced by Dallas Sonnier‘s Bonfire Legend (formerly Cinestate) company, whose movies have been dubbed right-wing populism by some pundits. I’ve written about why that isn’t actually the case in the past, but I definitely understand why people have made those assertions. Their oeuvre has tackled some controversial topics, such as militias and police brutality. But they’re hardly endorsements of them. 

As The Daily Beast pointed out, the company also made headlines in 2020 after one of its producing partners, Adam Donaghey, was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. Fred Williamson, an acting veteran who starred in the company’s V.F.W. production, was also accused of being inappropriate towards a costume designer on the set. Then there are the other scandals pertaining to employees being underpaid and overworked. It’s understandable why some viewers won’t want to support this movie due to their own moral objections. 

If Sonnier and co. handled those situations better and found a way to make amends with the victims, Run Hide Fight would undoubtedly find a wider audience and be generally accepted in film circles. Most liberal viewers probably won’t want to spend money on a Daily Wire subscription, especially when they can only stream right-wing news and op-ed shows for the most part. Then again, the Daily Wire is probably the best outlet for a movie that can be presented as too dangerous and provocative for mainstream consumption. 

As a piece of entertainment, however, Run Hide Fight is compelling, exciting, and thought-provoking. This is a legit actioner with bite. Kyle Rankin‘s feature essentially adopts the Die Hard formula and applies it to a school shooting scenario. While thrills, suspense and action are at the forefront, the film does contain some commentary on America’s mass shooting epidemic and the role the media plays in covering it. Some reviewers have claimed that its treatment of the subject matter in question is tasteless. That’s an assessment that I disagree with, but more on that later.

The story revolves around Zoe Hull (Isabel May), a high school student who recently lost her mother and has quite a fractured relationship with her dad (Thomas Jane). Otherwise, she’s a regular teenager who’s looking forward to getting out of high school and going to college. But those plans are put in jeopardy when a gang of shooters, led by Tristan (Eli Brown), crash a van through the cafeteria and start gunning down students in a quest to get their 15 minutes of fame.

The school shooters don’t intend to slaughter their classmates immediately, though. Instead, they demand that the surviving hostages film the fiasco as a live stream. Tristan is a narcissist who wants to make sure the world’s eyes are all on him and his cohorts before he carries out more atrocities. Most of the recording duties are handled by Lewis (Olly Sholotan), as his live stream attracts the highest viewership.

Unfortunately for the shooters, Zoe is in the bathroom when they storm the cafeteria and she doesn’t intend to let them win. After helping to evacuate some of her fellow students and teachers, she proceeds to take the fight to Tristan and his accomplices. Her father, meanwhile, lurks outside the school with a sniper rifle, in the likelihood that she might need some assistance along the way.

This premise suggests that Rankin and co. are proposing that a good person with a gun is better than a bad person with a gun. This is one of the themes that will make Run Hide Fight resonate with Second Amendment supporters and conservative types. Zoe is also the daughter of an ex-soldier and their family are avid hunters. Of course, this is another aspect of the film that will, broadly speaking, appeal to many blue-collar Americans who lean right on the spectrum.

Run Hide Fight is also critical of school lockdown protocols, proposing that they turn students into sitting ducks when gun massacres are taking place. The film also makes a point to note that the high school’s security guard is unarmed and hopeless when faced with the threat of armed antagonists. Basically, Zoe taking up arms is necessary to defeat the bad guys.

The gun control issue is complicated and the solution posited in Run Hide Fight isn’t entirely without merit — even if you disagree with that opinion. It’s a solution that doesn’t align with my own personal views on the issue either, but it challenged them in a way that I appreciated. Many viewers won’t agree with the film’s worldview in that regard, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t ask worthwhile questions. These attempts to stir up a conversation are also why the movie doesn’t deserve to be dismissed as tasteless, exploitative schlock. 

At the same time, Run Hide Fight isn’t obnoxiously preachy or excessive with its message in how to deal with a massacre. The film’s biggest gripe is with the media’s handling of school shooting coverage and how it gives notoriety to evil scumbags. Rankin and co. would rather see the narrative centre around the heroes than bring attention to wrongdoers. They’ve admitted that in interviews.

There’s a scene in which the sheriff (played by Treat Williams) has to convince the news crew to stop filming the school in order to prevent the gunmen from claiming more casualties. It’s quite a scathing indictment of the media’s supposed willingness to be morally dubious if it means ratings. That’s another viewpoint that will probably appeal to the “fake news” crowd. Then again, it’s another idea that’s worth thinking about. Does the media focus more on the shooters than the heroes and the victims? Maybe so.

Elsewhere, there are some elements of the movie that might be considered too progressive for some right-leaning viewers. If anyone goes in scouring for pro-Republican sentiments, they probably won’t like its portrayal of Tristan. He’s the only character in the film who espouses anything close to Trumpian beliefs, and he’s presented as an awful, irredeemable psychopath. He talks about a “build[ing] a wall” and insinuates that he thinks people of colour are lesser beings. I don’t even think the character was written with any political viewpoints in mind, but viewers scouring the movie with a fine toothcomb might associate him with right-wing extremism. 

The film also scores progressive points for centring around a strong, three-dimension female protagonist. Hollywood studio movies are often — and rightfully — criticised for not doing right by women-centric films. Run Hide Fight, on the other hand, puts a strong teenage girl at the forefront and doesn’t make a big deal about her gender at all. She’s just a well-written character who’s easy to root for.

May’s performance is absolutely spectacular. She deserves to be a huge star after this, and I hope the controversy surrounding the movie doesn’t scare off big-name filmmakers from wanting to work with her. I also hope she makes more action flicks, as she plays the part of a badass rather splendidly. 

Most of the films other heroes are also women of people of colour. The villains are mostly white males. The film’s most inept characters, namely the security guard and school principal, are also white men. Run Hide Fight isn’t a movie that’s too concerned with identity politics, but its representation credentials are more impressive than those in many so-called “woke” films. But I imagine some conservatives who think any movie that features a strong female lead equates to “PC gone mad” will see May kicking ass and turn it off.

Some viewers will go into Run Hide Fight expecting it to adhere to a specific point of view. Others will rein in on the elements that represent their values and try to present it as a conservative movie and whatnot. But Rankin is more interested in exploring the grey areas than anything else, and that’s what makes his latest film so fascinating.

That said, most viewers will go into this hoping to see a solid action movie with great performances, and Run Hide Fight excels in that department. The action scenes are well executed and the movie is chock-full of suspenseful and exciting moments. If you enjoy Die Hard and can leave your politics at the door, you’ll have fun with Run Hide Fight.

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