Runaway (1984 film)
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Runaway movie poster
|Directed by||Michael Crichton|
|Produced by||Michael I. Rachmil
Lisa Faversham (associate producer)
Kurt Villadsen (executive producer)
|Written by||Michael Crichton|
G. W. Bailey
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Cinematography||John A. Alonzo|
|Editing by||James Coblentz|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Release date(s)||December 14, 1984|
|Running time||99 min.|
|Box office||$6,770,587 (USA)|
Runaway is a 1984 science fiction action film starring Tom Selleck, Gene Simmons, Cynthia Rhodes and features Kirstie Alley in one of her early roles. The film was written and directed by Michael Crichton. Jerry Goldsmith composed the original musical score, which was the composer's first all-electronic soundtrack. The film was marketed with the tagline "It is the future. Machines intended to do our work are programmed to turn against us. Someone must stop the madman who started it all." Gene Simmons wrote music for the album Animalize with KISS while participating in this film.
With a multi-million dollar budget, big-name actors and a world-famous author as both writer and director, Runaway was planned as 1984's major science fiction draw. However, it was overshadowed by James Cameron's blockbuster The Terminator. Tom Selleck starred in the film during interseason of Magnum, P.I.
The film is set in the near future, where robots are commonplace – a part of everyday life like any other electrical appliance, and are just as prone to malfunctions. But when a robot malfunctions it could pose a threat to people or property. Such robots are known as "runaways". Since they are more dangerous than the average machine, they are handled by a division of the police trained in robotics. The "runaway" squad, however, is treated as an easy and unexciting assignment, often ridiculed.
Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay (Selleck) is a veteran police officer who joined the runaway squad after discovering his previously unknown acrophobia, which resulted in a family's death at the hands of a man he let escape. After years on the job Jack has found himself one of the division's few real experts. His new partner, Karen Thompson (Rhodes), is enthusiastic about the job, but he assures her there is little excitement involved. Mostly it involves flipping a switch. This changes when they find themselves handling a new threat – the first robotic homicide. Investigating a household robot that murdered a family with a kitchen knife and handgun, Jack discovers integrated circuits which not only override a robot's safety features, but direct it to attack humans. These circuits are not hacked chips, but created from a series of master templates, enabling them to be mass-produced.
Despite being unable to learn anything from uncooperative informants who end up dead Ramsay refuses to give up, and soon discovers the perpetrator is sociopathic genius Dr. Charles Luther (Simmons). Luther, while working for a defense contractor, developed a program that allows a robot to thermographically identify a human form amidst cover and to even differentiate between humans. Seeing the obvious profit potential, he killed his fellow researchers and tries to sell the technology on the black market. After a botched arrest attempt, Thompson is left with an unexploded bullet in her arm which Ramsay extracts. Fortunately, they also learn about another of Luther's weapons, smart bullets - miniature heat seeking missiles that lock onto a human target's unique heat signature, pursuing them wherever they run, even around corners.
While investigating another of Luther's partners, Ramsay and Thompson find Jackie Rogers (Alley), who was once Luther's lover. She double-crossed him and stole the circuit templates, intending to sell them herself. She is scared because she believes Luther will stop at nothing to kill her. When they create a ruse to transfer Jackie to safety, Luther attacks the police convoy with freeway-running robotic smart bombs. They discover that the bombs are zeroing in on a bug in Jackie's purse. they throw the bag out the window before the bomb reaches the car. Ramsay decides to make a public appearance with Jackie at a restaurant to draw Luther out, but he captures Thompson and wants Ramsay to exchange her for Jackie and the templates. Before making the exchange, Jackie gives some of the templates to Ramsay, for insurance that Luther won't kill her. But Luther kills her anyway, after discovering the missing templates. He then fires his smart bullets into the crowded restaurant and flees.
To retrieve the missing templates, Luther plans to attack Ramsay. He uses the police computers to discover everything about Ramsay's personal life, including his son. Once Ramsay discovers his information has been hacked, he races home to find his robot damaged and his son, Bobby (Cramer), missing. Luther calls to confirm he kidnapped Bobby and wants to exchange him for the missing templates. Ramsay agrees to meet Luther at an unfinished skyscraper. Luther gets the templates and sends Ramsay's son down in an elevator, where a legion of assassin robots - small spider-like robots which kill by injecting their victims with acid, then explosively self-destructing, leaving no evidence. Thompson, arrives and helps Bobby stay out of reach of the robots. Furious, Luther begins firing smart bullets, but Ramsay turns on the robotic construction equipment, creating multiple heat sources which cause the bullets to miss. Ramsay uses this distraction to get close to Luther and fight him hand-to-hand. Ramsay eventually pushes Luther over the side, and the inventor lands on his back, in the midst of his robot spiders. Programmed to kill whoever came down from above, the robots rush Luther.
Ramsay helps his son down and then cautiously approaches the seemingly dead villain. Screaming, Luther suddenly reaches up to grab Ramsay, but falls back, dead, while the spiders self-destruct around him.
Main cast 
- Tom Selleck - Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay
- Cynthia Rhodes - Karen Thompson
- Gene Simmons - Dr. Charles Luther
- Kirstie Alley - Jackie Rogers
- Stan Shaw - Sgt. Marvin James
- G.W. Bailey - Chief of Police
- Joey Cramer - Bobby Ramsay
- Chris Mulkey - David Johnson
- Anne-Marie Martin - Hooker at Bar
- Michael Paul Chan - Vectrocon Security Guard
- Marilyn Schreffler - Voice of Lois
The film received mixed reviews. It has received a 47% on Rotten Tomatoes.
See also