It’s the 1980’s… so having Tom “Magnum” Sellick and Gene “Kiss Demon” Simmons in a movie surely must make it a box office hit? Also Cynthia Rhodes is thrown in for good measure – what could of gone wrong?
It was even written and directed by Michael Crichton!
Well the Sci-Fi thriller Runaway is set in the near future, where robots are a part of everyday but can malfunction and when they do and there is a potential threat to human life and/or property it becomes the job of Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay (Selleck) to get these “Runaways.” Now I know what you are thinking, this sounds awfully familiar but they are Runaways…not replicants!
Runaways are more dangerous than the average machine, and Ramsey leads a specialist division that are often mocked by other Police divisions. Ramsey himself is a veteran police officer who joined the runaway squad after discovering his previously unknown fear of heights, which resulted in a family’s death at the hands of a man he let escape. After years on the job, Ramsay 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, saying that mostly it involves flipping a switch.
With the narrative equilibrium established the audience awaited something really bad to happen. It does! The first robotic homicide! You see, a household robot went nuts/malfunctioned and murdered a family with a kitchen knife and handgun!
Ramsey’s investigation uncovers integrated circuits that override a robot’s safety features and make it attack humans. These circuits are not hacked chips, but created from a series of master templates, enabling them to be mass-produced!
This leads Ramsey to cross paths with mad scientific genius Dr. Charles Luther (Simmons) who had previously worked as a defense contractor where he developed a program that allows a robot to thermographically identify a human form amidst cover and to even differentiate between humans.
Like the actor who plays him, Luther smelt the profit from this a mile away and killed his fellow researchers and attempting to sell the technology on the black market.
Luther is nearly caught but it all goes wrong and Thompson is left with an unexploded shell in her arm which Ramsay removes. From the extracted shell, they also learn about another of Luther’s weapons – smart bullets. These are revealed to be 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 (Kirstie Alley before he bar job), 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.
Later, Ramsey and his team create a ruse to transfer Jackie to safety, and as expected Luther attacks the police convoy with 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.
In another move of Police genius, Ramsay decides to make a public appearance with Jackie at a restaurant to draw Luther out, but instead Luther 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 household robot damaged and his son Bobby 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 to where a legion of “assassin” robots–small, spider-like robots which kill by injecting their victims with acid–are waiting. 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, injecting him in multiple places.
Ramsay helps his son down and then cautiously approaches the motionless villain. Screaming, Luther reaches up to grab Ramsay, but falls back, dead in an 80’stastic manner, while the spiders self-destruct around him! #ShouldOfBeenAFranchise