STARRING: Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Jim Metzler, Lu Leonard, Vernon Wells

1990, 85 Minutes, Directed by: Steven Lovy

Circuitry Man is set in a near-future (or so the movie's opening sequence assures us) Los Angeles. The earth's entire population has been forced to live in huge government-controlled underground cities because pollution has made the planet's air unbreathable.

Drugs have been replaced by mind-altering computer chips that are "jacked in" directly into sockets surgically implanted into the human brain. A deal involving such "100% pure" chips goes sour because of a simultaneous double cross and police sting operation. A female Sharon Stone-lookalike bodyguard finds herself in possession of the microchips and decides to make a run for New York where she'll sell the chips herself.

Soon she is being pursued by two bumbling overweight cops, an ex-psychotherapist called "plughead" because of the myriad of sockets on his bald head and a gang of Kawasaki driving Japanese bikers - to mention only a few!

Circuitry Man is straight-to-video country, all right. While it may sound like the sort of thing that Rutger Hauer did in his sleep in Redline and Keanu Reeves in Johnny Mnemonic, Circuitry Man manages to transcends its low budget (a modest $1 million dollars), cheap sets and no-name cast limitations with a reasonably inventive plot that manages to be fresh and sustain viewer interest at the same time.

Nothing is taken too seriously as the plot chugs along neatly. Sure, some of the attempts at humor fall embarrassingly flat on its face, but the cast is game and seems to have had fun while making the movie.

Followed by a sequel Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man 2 in 1994.


Sci-Fi Movie Page Pick: Made for a "mere" one million dollars; Phantom Menace budget: US$115 million. Straight-to-video fare, sure. Made at a bargain basement budget, true. But if you really feel like some video fodder this one is better than most.


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