Run Hide Fight — The Daily Wire’s first foray into entertainment and film — cuts deeps against the cultural grain. When Zoey Hull, a 17-year-old high school senior, finds herself in the midst of a school shooting, orchestrated by a quartet of her peers, she refuses to flee or become fodder for armed mass murderers. Instead, she uses her wits and sheer will to fight back.
What follows, is a tightly wound thriller that pulls from nostalgic teen films like the Breakfast Club while channeling the relentless stoic heroism of John McClane in Die Hard. The added flair is a classic Tarantino-esque trope. An infamous tragedy is flipped on its head: through a messy, gory macabre of vengeance, the victim becomes the victor.
“This is high school. Nothing that happens here matters in the real world,” blithely remarks Zoe Hull, as she saunters through the school hallway, mere days away from senior prom and weeks from the end of her high school epoch. From this point, Kyle Rankin (the director and screenwriter) begins to layer sheets of suspense, each one further foreboding the impending onslaught. It is precisely the fact that you know what’s coming that keeps you on edge, glued to the screen.
Isabel May – cast as the daring and gritty heroine, Zoey Hull – buoys the film with her performance. From the moment she realizes her school has been stormed, she maintains her composure, calmly thinking back to the lessons her war veteran father (Thomas Jane) taught her about survival.
What makes Zoe Hull such a compelling protagonist though, is her vulnerability. She isn’t some spandex-clad superhero, culled from the imagination of Stan Lee or the pages of DC comics. Zoe can’t physically overpower a grown man, much less wantonly walk into a firefight deflecting bullets. She’s an ordinary high school girl you could find chatting with Molly Ringwald about senior prom in a John Hughes movie.
It’s when she is thrust into grave danger, with her closest friends in peril, that she uses wits, cunning instincts — and lessons from her father — to not only survive but to fight back and save her peers.
Rankin’s screenwriting cleverly subdues the film’s more “conservative” underpinnings, preventing the film from coming off as an alternative to Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. The ideological platitudes are instead tastefully riddled throughout and left for the observant viewer to pick up on.
For example, the film’s generally bleak portrayal of unprofessional and poorly prepared law enforcement is a stark rebuke against such blasé reliance on the government that leads many opponents of gun rights to suggest that only the government ought to have legal access to firearms. It is only through her determination and unrelenting drive that Zoe Hull, like a character from Ayn Rand, manages to stay alive long enough for law enforcement to even arrive at the scene.
While some critics fault the film for its supposedly poorly developed shooters, their grievances miss the mark. Run Hide Fight is unique in its storytelling in that it intentionally avoids lending credence to the motives of the cold-hearted criminals.
The ringleader, Tristan Voy – another superb casting choice, as Eli Brown, who crafts a convincing sociopath with his smooth charisma – is a nihilistic, social-media obsessed lunatic whose motivations are blurred and at times incongruent. Kyle Rankin wrote Tristan as an empty vignette, so devoid of any original thoughts that he posits such cartoonish Reddit atheistic questions as, “You believe in God? Then why would God let something like this happen to you?” To which the student smartly remarks, “free will. God allows the wicked to do their wickedness so they can be judged.”
As the Daily Wire’s opening salvo into the liberal-dominated world of cinema, Run Hide Fight is an explosive entry. It tackles school shootings — a topic as sensitive as radioactive-uranium — and pulls it off gracefully. The film never feels tacky or exploitative. Neither does it come off as preachy. The politics of Run Hide Fight are deeply entrenched in the characters and their actions. Through Zoe Hull, we see the importance of courage, selflessness, and family. In an era of endless remakes and recycled tropes, if nothing else, you can’t fault Run Hide Fight for a lack of boldness or innovation.
Harry Khachatrian is a Canadian computer engineer and a contributor at The Daily Wire. Find him on Twitter
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.