Runaway (1984)

Director/Writer: Michael Crichton
Starring: Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes, Gene Simmons, Kirstie Alley, Stan Shaw .USA. 1h 39m

When I first saw this movie it literally blew my socks off, I was at the tender age of about 6 or 7 and it didn’t take a lot to impress me, but the idea of a future littered with robots and advanced technology was always something that really sparked something in me. Growing up saw a few inventions, phones beame fun again and not just the colourful see through ones, but more and more technology slowly creeped into my life, and luckily without any of Skynett’s T100, but looking back at Runaway is something I have the urge to do periodically as I still really enjoy the movie despite the dated clunky robots and suspect acting, it still holds some Vaporwave charm, and is still lighting a new generation alive with the hopes of electric dreams.

IT IS THE FUTURE. Machines are being programmed to turn against us. Someone must stop the madman who started it all.

Michael Crichton, wrote and directed this sci fi cops and robbers movie, without making a huge song and dance about how far into the future the film is set, but Crichton was totally focused on making the film look and feel real and this is possibly the most impressive feature of the movie, modern life is filled with robots that work as housemaids, pick corn and help around the offices and construction sites. But when these mechanical critters get out of hand, a special branch of law enforcement is called out to take care of these “Runaways” but the cops are hardly taken seriously after all who can’t deal with a talking coffee machine.

But after a series of deadly encounters where machines have somehow learnt to shoot guns and are fouling up in devious ways, the best man on the tiny team and his new partner start to notice new and modified chips which are being installed by a sadistic genius whose intent on making killer machines for the highest bidder, but he’s not a man who’s easily intimidated and will apply any ruthless ploy to get his way.

Chief of Police: You screwed up good, Ramsay. We got two dead officers, do you understand me mister? Two. Dead. Cops! We got two wounded – one of them your own partner – and we got two dead guinea punks! And no one knows why or what the HELL it’s all about!

Tom Selleck and his manly moustache play the enigmatic hero in this (once) flashy sci fi thriller. The movie didn’t do too well at the cinema, was it the tash or was it from total disbelief that we could have possibly believed that one day a Roomba would actually be invented but imagine a Roomba with a gun! Now you’re afraid huh!!

You do have to use your imagination a little but this is what sci fi is all about, sure the acting is a bit questionable but Chritons technique is to let his actors run with their characters, especially Gene Simmons who plays the psychopath Dr. Charles Luther (*shudders* a name so evil), as he has a truck load of character and Criston was probably afraid of him. But considering the other horrors to be released in this year including The Terminator (1984) there’s no way it was going to out sell the cult classic as cinema was ready for a harder edge and more gore.

The film really works, it doesn’t go too far over the top in terms of unbelievable machines, we’re not going to suddenly step into Star Trek but it’s plausible that we will invest some machines to take away the job of meaniale workers because it’s human nature to be a creator and it’s something that we’re seeing every day. And with progress comes some maniac with the wild whims to make a profit and cause destruction.

The massive fight between good and evil plays out pretty well here, we get to see Kirsty Allen undress before her Free Willy days and the action scenes are pretty outstanding for their age, with tiny robots spinning on a super fast highway blowing up cars, and bullets that chase people around corners and some pissy spider robots that inject acid, there’s a lot of retro techno dreams of a better future in a slightly heartwarming movie that always leaves me wanting more retro classics and for me this is one of those classics despite it’s bad rep, it means a lot to me.

Rating: 7/10

R: Westworld (1973), Robocop (1987)
L: 15 sci fi movies from 1984 still worth talking about

 

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