Forgotten Friday Flick – “Runaway”

With the lack of big budget quality hitting the cinemas this week, wanted to positively counteract its seemingly DOA status with a old school good guys and bad guys past picture notable to provide some needed movie pleasure – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  Today’s tale mixes old school police investigations with a distinctive techno angle for a flick with plenty of memorable moments.  It focuses on a squad whose sole job it is to take down artificial intelligence that has malfunctioned, but they’re about to get a lesson in the real damage a mastermind of robotics can do.  Smart bombs, small heat seeking bullets, strange circuits and robotic spiders with acid for blood all make up the world of Michael Crichton’s…Runaway!

Sgt. Jack Ramsey is a veteran cop with a knack for techo knowledge. As one of the members of the “runaway squad”, Ramsey is called on whenever there is an issue with an out of control robot or machine that has malfunctioned.  But Ramsey’s about to meet two people who will change his life for both good and bad.  On the up side there is his newbie partner Karen Thompson who, even though she has less experience in all things technology, has spirit and skills as a cop.  Down side is there are new strange circuits showing up in everything from house robots to smart bullets that target specific people and they’re from a master template that’s the demented brainchild of one man – sociopath Dr. Charles Luther.  In a battle involving money, power and technology as a deadly weapon who will be left standing?  (Cue high drum beats!)

Okay, not only is the description above a little cheddar ridden, but the notable effects of Runaway may be a tad film fromage dated for some too.  (CGI crowds be damned!)  But for those merely in it for the fun film ride, helmer Michael Crichton (yes, the Jurassic Park writer!) has some seriously savory B-movie candy within.  From the visual flying perspective of the smart bullets going after intended targets (gives new meaning to the term ‘a bullet with your name on it!’) to an awesome car chase involving bombs and window grids, there are some terrific effects that still hold up here and the ones that don’t still prove ever so enjoyable no matter how old they are.  (The look, design and deadly functions of the ‘assassin spiders” are cool no matter when they were made – I want one!) It’s a huge part of what makes Runaway as a flick worth seeking out – a future foretold in the name of fun by Crichton.

He also casts his flick with some good looking folks early in their careers and it matches the on-screen techno eye candy to a tee.  Tom Selleck as the seasoned Ramsey, a pre-Dirty Dancing Cynthia Rhodes as his naïve partner, KISS frontman Gene Simmons as the evil and charismatic Luther and even some early Kirstie Alley action as a former flame of Luther’s.  All play their parts well (Simmons relishes the bad guy turns!) and add equal amounts of human drama to a story steeped in the world of robotics.

Crichton’s choices as a film writer/director were always interesting.  Besides taking on the world of all things high tech in Runaway, he also dabbled in important areas like the dangers of robotic theme parks (see Yul Brynner in the classic Westworld!), black market organ sales (hidden gem Coma!) and even the dark side of modeling.  (Previous Forgotten Friday Flick selection Looker!)  But with Runaway there’s also a much needed flight of fancy aspect that adds an even more entertaining side for an outing that definitely delivers.  The bold boisterous bullets of Runaway may be worn with age, but they still hit the cinematic sweet spot.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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