STARRING: Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes, Gene Simmons, Kirstie Alley, Stan Shaw, Joey Cramer, G.W. Bailey

1984, 100 Minutes, Directed by: Michael Crichton

runaway.jpg (15626 bytes)This predictable as clockwork action thriller sees Tom Selleck (Magnum) as a police officer working in a special "runaway" unit that deals with rogue malfunctioning robots.

Set in a near future where Japanese factory-style robotic units have become commonplace, Runaway is an unimaginative police procedural film that counts off the clichés.

We know, for example, that sooner or later the police chief of Tom Selleck's precinct will shout at him about how big a mess he is making of things (a movie cliché excellently pilloried in So I Married An Axe Murderer by the way). When it is revealed at the beginning of the movie that the Selleck character suffers from vertigo, we in the audience instinctively know that this is no minor plot detail: no doubt the film's end will involve heights - probably Tom Selleck will have to face the villian(s) in a tall building. And that romance will no doubt blossom between Selleck and his new female police partner since he is so conveniently a single parent (his wife died in a convenient car crash years ago). And so forth.

None of this helped in any way by the fact that Runaway is a largely humorless affair, which takes itself way too seriously. If you find the idea that the future will have so many malfunctioning machines that special police units to deal with them have to be created disconcerting, you should be reminded that the film was written and directed by Michael Crichton.  Chrichton is after all well-known for his anti-science diatribes in equally one-dimensional flicks such as Jurassic Park and The Lost World.

By the way, the badder than bad villain of the piece is played by Gene Simmons, ex-lead singer of 1970s rock band Kiss sans make-up . . .



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