The Runner

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Runner Movie Poster Image
Slow-moving political drama has strong language, some sex.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's difficult but not impossible to recover from a huge setback, and staying true to your values can make the path to redemption easier. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Colin is a flawed but decent person who tries to do the right thing for his constituents, even after he's forced to step down from office in the aftermath of a scandal. 


A woman slaps her husband during a heated argument. 


A quick glimpse of a woman's breast, and a few brief sex scenes that show people moving in silhouette. One scene features a woman reaching down to grope a man's crotch. References to a politician's repeated infidelities. 


Strong but not constant language includes "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," and "ass."


One character uses a Mac laptop. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character is a recovering alcoholic who falls off the wagon after both his career and marriage fall apart. He's often seen drinking heavily and waking up groggy. His father is also a not-so-sober alcoholic who also smokes cigarettes. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Runner is a slow-moving drama starring Nicolas Cage as a disgraced New Orleans politician who's forced to resign. He's also an alcoholic who falls off the wagon, so there's plenty of drinking, as well as strong-but-not constant swearing ("s--t," "f--k," "ass") and a few brief sex scenes -- including a quick glimpse of a woman's breast, shots of people moving in silhouette, and a woman reaching down to grope a man's crotch. Themes include infidelity and the difficult path to redemption, making it a better fit for older teens and up.

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What's the story?

Colin Price (Nicolas Cage) is a rising political star, a New Orleans congressman who's making a name for himself trying to help his constituents in the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. But then his career is derailed by a sex scandal. Forced from office and with his marriage falling apart, Colin -- who's also an alcoholic -- must try to figure out the next chapter of his life.

Is it any good?

THE RUNNER is the kind of movie that seems to have its heart in the right place but doesn't quite come together. Colin Price is a rarity: a politician who actually cares about his constituents and won't kowtow to wealthy corporate lobbyists. While we see his nobility tested again and again, it's hard to really care about him because the film is so slow moving and Cage is so flat in the role.

None of the characters are developed into anything beyond stereotypes, especially Colin's power-hungry wife (Connie Nielsen) and the smarmy donor (Bryan Batt) who pushes him to run for office again. The only interesting character is Colin's dad (Peter Fonda), also a failed politician and alcoholic, who only appears briefly and isn't enough by himself to make this film worth watching. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of movies about flawed characters. Is Colin a role model? Why or why not?

  • What role does drinking play in The Runner? Is there a message about addiction? Are there realistic consequences?

  • How does the movie portray marriage? Do you think Colin and his wife love each other, or are they together mainly to advance their careers? 

  • What do you think about the way Colin's political positions evolve during the course of the movie? Why do his positions change so dramatically? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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