It's easy to sit back and laugh at bold predictions that fail to materialize in works of speculative science fiction that came out thirty years ago. However, just because evil bastards who look like Gene Simmons from KISS aren't running around stealing microchips with the help of an army of robot spiders doesn't mean the premise of Runaway is that far-fetched. Sure, the film, written and directed by Michael Crichton, might come across as a little hokey, but it pretty much predicts humanities over-dependence on technology. Of course, you still might say that the idea of a robot cooking you dinner is something straight out of The Jetsons. So while the aesthetics are a tad off, the theory the film puts forth is eerily accurate. Though, I have to wonder, who's designing these robots? I mean, why are so many of them malfunctioning? Actually, they're not just malfunctioning, they're hurting people. Don't believe me, just ask Kirstie Alley's jet black pantyhose-ensnared thighs, as they just got zapped by a burst of electricity that came from her 577 Sentry (a glorified paper shredder on wheels).
Don't look at me like that. You didn't think I purposely went out of my way to watch a movie that stars Tom Selleck, did you? C'mon, man, you know me better than that. All it took for this film to pique my interest was the sight of Kirstie Alley looking all business-like in her blouse, belt, skirt, hose and heels ensemble. It also helped that I liked Michael Crichton's previous film, Looker, which starred Albert Finney and Susan Dey.
Unfortunately, Tom Selleck is no Albert Finney. I know, that's my second dig at Mr. Selleck, but simply put, he just not that good in this. You would think he'd be perfect as a cop. But he's not merely a cop, he's a cop who's in charge of pacifying "runaway" robots. And I didn't buy for a second that Tom Selleck knew anything about robots.
No, what this film needs an actor like, oh, let's say, Harrison Ford or Peter Weller. Or better yet, turn it into a Hong Kong set Category III flick called "RoboCops" (with, of course, Danny Lee in the Tom Selleck role and Anthony Wong as the villain). But then again, every film in existence would be better off if it was remade as a Hong Kong set Category III flick. Seriously, think of a film. It doesn't matter, just pick one. Okay, now imagine it took place in Hong Kong circa 1991-94. Pretty awesome, eh?
Okay, let's get things back on track. First off, the poster for this movie lied to me. Not once does Jack Ramsay (Tom Selleck) hold the cool futuristic pistol that fires mini-heat seeking missiles.
Most cops have to deal with the dregs of society on a daily basis, but Jack Ramsay is in charge of tracking down and disabling wonky robots.
On the day he's assigned a new partner, Jack gets a call about a 7799 Pest Controller (your standard agricultural model) that's running amuck in a corn field. Wait is it "amuck" or "amok"?
Ah, who gives a shit. Check out the gams on Ramsay's new partner. I bet you're wondering how I knew her gams were worth checking out, you know, because she's wearing a pair of standard issue lady police pants (which are infamous for dampening lady-based legginess). Well, that's just it, she wasn't wearing lady police pants, she was wearing a lady police skirt. Nothing too short, but short enough to get a good idea what she had going on gam-wise.
At any rate, Ramsay's new partner is a failed dancer named Thompson (Cynthia Rhodes)–which is apt since Cynthia is best known for being a dancer. After a couple of mild hiccups, Ramsay and Thompson manage to wrangle the wayward robot. It's no wonder it malfunctioned the way it did, it's CPU was an 8088. Am I right, fellas?
The next call the robot police get is a 709, which, according to Marvin (Stan Shaw), is when a robots kills someone. It would seem that a model 912 stabbed to death two people and threatening to kill a baby with a hand gun.
Arriving at the scene (a quiet suburban street), Ramsay asks them to prep a "floater" (a drone) to send in the house, so that he may access the situation. Deciding that the only option is to go inside himself, Ramsay dons his trusty electromagnetic scatter suit and prepares to face down the killer robot.
Despite a few minor glitches, Ramsay emerges from the house a hero. I have to say, this particular sequence is pretty gripping stuff. Granted, Tom Selleck looked ridiculous in his electromagnetic scatter suit (even the name is giggle worthy), but the scene is kinda cool. Oh, and you know something sinister is afoot when we see Gene Simmons' Luther lurking in the crowd that has gathered to watch Ramsay do his thing.
And wouldn't you know it, Luther was the one who planted the "non-standard chip" inside the model 912 that made it go nuts. Meaning, this was no runaway, this was murder.
The non-standard chips are highly sought after by Luther, who wants to sell them to terrorists (nice guy). And when we meet him again, he's shaking down an employee at Vectrocon Security Systems for a butt-load of these non-standard chips. Unsatisfied with merely attaining more non-standard chips, Luther wants the templates that will allow him to produce more. And it looks like, judging by the way dispatches one Vectrocon stooge with a bunch of robot spiders and another (Chris Mulkey from The Hidden) with a gun that fires heat-seeking missiles, he'll do just about anything to acquire them.
While investigating the Vectrocon connection, Ramsay comes face-to-face with the shapely splendour that Kirstie Alley circa 1984. Playing a Vectrocon employee named "Jackie," Kirstie, it would seem, is having a little trouble with her 577 Sentry (it keeps zapping her black pantyhose-adorned thighs). Luckily for her, Ramsay and Thompson are currently in the building.
I liked how when Thompson offers to get Ramsay's electromagnetic scatter suit from the car, he says no. Now, before you accuse Ramsay of being careless. It should be noted that Ramsay doesn't want to look like a total dork in front of Jackie. Yes, even a seasoned professional like Ramsay is willing forgo safety in order to impress an attractive woman. And it looks like, much to Thompson's chagrin, Ramsay's gamble is paying off, as Jackie's pussy is clearly pulsating at a magnum-infused rate of speed. (Huh?) She totally wants to fuck him. (Oh.)
Even though the script seems to favour the pairing of Ramsay and Thompson, I thought Ramsay and Jackie produced more heat.
Speaking of pairing things, if I had to pair Runaway with any other film, I would go with Black Moon Rising. Think about it, both film's feature tons of newfangled gadgetry, yet no attempt whatsoever is made to make their respective worlds seem futuristic. Though, in terms of quality, I have to give Black Moon Rising a slight edge. It's simple, really, Tommy Lee Jones is a better actor than Tom Selleck. That being said, Runaway has robot spiders and Kirstie Alley in black pantyhose going for it. So, yeah.