Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  Runaway Manufacturing Malfunctions
Year: 1984
Director: Michael Crichton
Stars: Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes, Gene Simmons, Kirstie Alley, Stan Shaw, G.W. Bailey, Joey Cramer, Chris Mulkey, Anne-Marie Martin, Michael Paul Chan, Elizabeth Norment, Carol Teasdale, Jackson Davies, Paul Batten, Babs Chula, Marilyn Schreffler
Genre: Thriller, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: It is the near future, and technology has advanced sufficiently to enable robots to be in every home and workplace, assisting humans with their day to day tasks and generally making life run a lot smoother. That's the idea, at any rate, but machines are fallible and prone to malfunction, which calls for an expert to be brought in to stop them in their tracks: not a technician, but a specially deployed policeman. In the case of this agricultural robot, Officer Ramsay (Tom Selleck) is on the case with his new partner, Officer Thompson (Cynthia Rhodes), but what if the malfunctions grew more serious?

Michael Crichton was responsible for one cult classic science fiction movie in the seventies when he directed Westworld, the first time he'd been allowed to direct one of his scripts, but come the eighties those scripts were generating less excitement and it took Jurassic Park to make him a name to be reckoned with once more. Not that he was taking it easy in this decade, for one of his would-be blockbusters was Runaway, which sadly for him was a flop which could have been down to his choice of casting. Tom Selleck was a big star on television with the title role of Magnum P.I., yet oddly this never translated into big screen success, and here was an example of that.

It could have been because Selleck didn't much moderate his style between the television and the cinema, so audiences were thinking they saw him on the box every week, so why bother paying money to see him on a night out when he's pretty much doing the same thing? Another reason might have been the movie's choice of technology: computers were the big deal at the time, so to go back to clunky-looking robots as the main concern was a retrograde step, when many would have rather seen some haywire supercomputer trying to take over the world rather than KISS member Gene Simmons pouting and glowering mysteriously at his fellow actors as his Luther character manipulates the machines.

Simmons had of course made his acting debut with the rest of his band in the camp classic TV movie KISS meets the Phantom of the Park, but going solo he wasn't slathered in his trademark makeup and evidently hired because of his ability to look smugly menacing, rather than containing any acting flair to back that up. Once we have been introduced to Ramsay and Thompson, we start to realise that there are some very hackneyed plot devices thrown up here, the biggest one being that Ramsay is scared of heights like James Stewart in Vertigo: gee, do you think this might have some inclusion in the movie's grand finale? Before that it's buddy film territory with the mismatched couple getting along with each other until the inevitable romance.

One drawback about Runaway's vision of the future was those robots: Crichton got it right that technology would be more prevalent in every human environment, but he got it wrong that they would take this form. So there's none of the information and communication exchange that became the signature of twenty-first century advancements, just a bunch of boxy trundlers which put the dinner on for you or electrocute Kirstie Alley. What? Yeah, the movie's robots sum up Crichton's attitude to modern life, that if anything can go wrong it will go wrong, but here it's Luther's meddling which is the biggest issue as the human element instead of the circuits frying or whatever. This all built up to a showdown on a construction site including the bit everyone remembers, no not so much the targeted bullets (with bullet-cam), but the mechanical spiders which are acidically venomous, threatening Ramsay and his young son who Luther has kidnapped. Other than that, this was interesting for what it missed. Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 3998 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (2)
Posted by:
Andrew Pragasam
9 Oct 2012
  A patchwork of disparate ideas, almost as though Crichton strung several underdeveloped screenplays together. I have always found Gene Simmons' smug persona quite sinister anyway, even sans makeup.
Posted by:
Graeme Clark
9 Oct 2012
  I don't know if Simmons is sinister so much as a bit sleazy. Might be the same thing in some opinions.

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M


Last Updated: