Ex-bodyguard turned fashion designer Lori (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson) is a little tied up at the moment as she lies in bed with her hands bound to the bedposts by her lover. At least she thought he was her lover until he climbs off her and allows the henchmen of local gangster Juice (Lu Leonard) into her apartment. It is the near future and mankind has been forced to live underground, as Lori does in a subterranean Los Angeles, but the most sought after objects are computer chips that enhance the users' brains if they plug into them. And so Juice wants Lori to take a case of them to New York, but there's someone who is very keen to get his hands on them: a certain villain known as Plughead (Vernon Wells)...
There must have been a tiny minority of people who saw Circuitry Man in a cinema, but it did pick up a number of fans on video among those who were willing to overlook its wanting production values and enjoy a slice of low budget cyberpunk. It was scripted by the director Steven Lovy with his brother Robert Lovy, and featured a strictly second division cast, yet they showed they were bright enough to bring this post-apocalyptic tale to life. The special effects were few and far between, and mostly held over until the finale came along, but the film had an unexpected romantic quality that won over some of those who rented it on video in the early nineties.
That romantic aspect is neatly embodied by the character of Danner, played by Jim Metzler with a ponytail. Danner is a pleasure droid who wants information from Juice about where his true love can be, threatening not to attack, but suicide if he doesn't get what he wants. What he doesn't know is that Juice placed a program into his mind that told him he had a true love, when in actual fact there was no such person. This keeps him in her thrall should there be any jobs she needs him to carry out, so it looks as if romance is doomed in this harsh world. Enter Lori, who he has to team up with to take the chips to New York while they are chased by Juice, Plughead and the police.
The level of action is mainly restricted to the odd explosion, car chase or briefest of brief punch up - at one point a bar room brawl is represented by Danner watching it through a window in an airlock as we don't actually get to see it. Money must have been tight, but was well spent on getting the cast out into the Californian desert when the characters finally make it above ground. Unlike something similar to Logan's Run, the surface still suffers from a poisoned atmosphere so everyone has to go around with oxygen tanks. As innovative as they can manage, the filmmakers wisely let love bloom between Danner and Lori because as it goes on Circuitry Man grows oddly endearing. Plughead makes a decent baddie, and although the ending makes you wonder why the chips had to be taken all that way in the first place, all in all the film, while no classic, wasn't anything to be ashamed of either. Music by Deborah Holland, who also appears as a singer.