This video rental look back is for the robot mayhem action cop film Runaway (1984)
Tagline – IT IS THE FUTURE. Machines are being programmed to turn against us. Someone must stop the madman who started it all.
Who’s our hero today?
That man with that big hairy top lip slug Tom Selleck drops his Magnum PI Hawaiian shirts for a traditional cop get up.
Had I seen this one on VHS back in the day?
I remember the cassette box on the shelves. Even thought I’d seen it but I’d either hadn’t or completely wiped it from my malfunctioning processing chips as I didn’t recall any of it. Which is a big bonus. Always a joy to step back into the 80s movie rental days especially with a film you haven’t seen.
Quick plot run down.
Now adopted that deep video trailer voice. You know the voice. “In a world“. Right you got it. Lets go.
In a world where robots are part of everyday life. A world were robot helpers might malfunction causing a threat of death. These defected hardware are called Runaways. A specialist police squad is run by a veteran cop called Sgt Jack Ramsay. A man ready to risk his life to bring down rogue defected machines. Not just overzealous toasters, escapee corn collectors or out of control building site labours that can be shut off with a flick of a switch. You gotta watch out for revolver brandishing cyber units or deadly emitting electric bolt death droids. Is someone changing the circuits in some sort of evil dastardly plot to ….. actually I’m not sure what he was trying to achieve but what ever it was, it was very naughty. Luckily our hero Jack Ramsey has a new rookie cop partner to help him uncover this mystery.
Does the hero have a day job?
Sgt Jack Ramsay (Tom Selleck) is a veteran of this police special task force assigned to keep the population safe from malfunctioning robots and future technologies. He’s gruff and professional however he does have a weakness!
What’s our heroes special skills?
Hiding a deep tragedy. He suffers from vertigo, a fear of heights. Before he had joined the runaway squad his fear had lead to a criminal escaping and killing many. Years in the robot division had helped but his fear of heights remained. A single Dad, his love for his only son Bobby (Joey Cramer) drives him on.
Joey Cramer is the cute kid David Freeman from Flight of the Navigator (1986) a film me and my younger brother Dan watched on many occasions. I watched it again recently and his acting when he’s left devastated, baffled by new owners in his family home is still exceptional powerful. Such a shame his acting career went tits up for the young guy. There’s a documentary coming soon about it called Life After the Navigator (2020).
Heroes weapon of choice?
According to the Internet Movie Firearms Data Base website the service handgun Ramsay and his partner use are Detonics ScoreMaster 1911 automatic pistols. Which gave the cops a more futuristic look as uniformed law enforcement would of used commonplace service revolvers. Incidentally it’s the same weapon used by Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in Terminator 2: Judgment Day when she escapes from the mental institute.
Heroes drink of choice?
Oh he loves a beer. He just can’t stop himself. Always wasted on the set of Magnum PI here before he was assigned to the Runaway squad!!
Does hero have a sidekick?
He does. He gets assigned a new partner to his runaway squad called Karen Thompson (Cynthia Rhodes). She’s eager and enthusiastic but she’s saddled with old grumpy pants Ramsay. “Don’t get too excited! The job mostly involves flipping an off switch!“. Cue second job investing a call out to a homicidal robotic maniac armed with a knife and handgun!.
The actress Cynthia Rhodes has the most beautiful eyes. Really stunning. I felt I’d seen her before. However on checking out her films I haven’t seen Dirty Dancing (1987) and I don’t believe she had a big part in Flashdance (1983) and Staying Alive (1983) was wack and I can’t remember it at all. She retired from acting to become a full time mum.
Hot girl? Damsel in distress or ass kicker?
Ass kicking goes to Ramsay’s partner Karen but the damsel in distress goes to chain smoking Jackie Rogers (Kirstie Alley). They can share the hot girl title between them. Even whilst they both rock battling big 80s perm jobs and ultra sharp shoulder pads. Jackie is our bad guys lover. Sent to do his naughty bidding. To steal a bunch of circuit templates. Cash signs might of flashed before her eyes as he contemplates double crossing him. With a psychopath lover like him! that’s probably not a good idea?
Who’s the main baddie?
That would be Dr Charles Luther (Gene Simmons). A genius computer programmer working for a defense contractor. He’s also a psychotic, narcissistic, sociopathic madman. When he see’s the potential for this invention of thermo imaging, heat seeking missiles that can fit inside a small gun he goes proper rogue. Willing to kill anyone who gets in his way.
Yeah that is long tongue Gene Simmons from metal band Kiss. This was his debut film acting role. He’s pretty bad to be honest. You can see him again in Wanted: Dead or Alive (1986) alongside Rutger Hauer where he features in one of the best death scenes in that movie.
Baddies special skills?
His stupid looking evil stare. It’s so mega cheesy its hysterical.
Psycho baddies rating out of ten? 8.5/10
Luther is a determined psychopath. He pops up everywhere with his custom made missile-firing handgun. Anyone on the receiving end of those heat guided bullets is for sure a dead man. He takes great enjoyment in his evilness.
Heroes balls of steel and anger ratings out of ten? 8/10
He might be gruff and a bit moody but he’s doesn’t let his anger levels go off the charts. Ball of steel rating are a good sized meaty kahunas. Ramsay knows to look after the family jewels. He wears a jockstrap as part of his robot fighting outfit.
Surely it features a training montage scene?
Not it doesn’t but rookie cop Karen gets to run through a cornfield on her first day on the job. Chasing a very cute looking robot cob picker that makes a run for it. It’s a funny scene as the farmers look on with delight.
Does it feature an impossible mission?
If it wasn’t for the Ramsay’s tash bush I would of said mission total impossible but with the double team of cop and lip mullet I’d say anythings possible!
Does the hero get a chance to show off their muscles?
Just that manly muscular moustache on constant show. Steamy!
Will I be needing to pause the video player? AKA are there any boobies?
Set your alarms to 45 minutes on the dot for a nice visit from pinky and perky. No ladies it’s not hunky Tom! Nor our two lady stars either guys.
No! Didn’t even see any smoldering hot electronic cybernetic software updating itself into sizzling circuits of hardware!
Any good totally random surprise scenes?
How does Luther keep tracking Jackie Rogers? There must be a tracking bug on her somewhere. Stick her in the bug detecting body unit. Oh course there’s one in her coat. “Please take that off“. Oh there’s another in her blouse “Ok could you take that off, please!“. It’s still buzzes away. There’s one in her bra! Before you know it Kirstie Alley is standing there in the buff! Calm down lads nothing to be seen but it was a pretty random scene. Especially as they don’t check her bag! DOH!
Films body count? Low/Medium/High?
In 80s action body count standards I’d go for a bang in the middle medium.
Best death scene?
One of the best death scenes is a POV chase around an alleyway as we see the view from a smart bullet with a heat seeking missile as it flies after its unfortunate victim.
Explosion ratio? Low/Medium/High?
Did anyone say EXPLODING TOASTER ROBOT SPIDERS!!!!!
Ramsay – “Congratulations, guys, you just staked out a roll of toilet paper.“
Any other familiar faces and actors pop up?
Stan Shaw plays fellow runaway squad cop Marvin. He’s a familiar face you would of seen in films like The Monster Squad (1987) Harlem Nights (1989) Rising Sun (1993) as well as lots of TV work.
Plus the police chief is played by G.W. Bailey. Haha he will always be best known for Lt. Harris in the Police Academy series.
Runaway is written and directed by movie ideas machine Michael Crichton. Where Runaway might be a long way from his classic works like Jurassic Park, Westworld, The Andromeda Strain it still has some neat ideas.
The soundtrack is by Jerry Goldsmith and read it was his first fully electronic score. You can listen to the full soundtrack here.
Ooooo the cheese-O-meter drone flies up high but it’s batteries are fading and manages to hoover in the medium zone. Some new Duracell’s could force it into the danger high zone. I’ll leave that with you to call that judgement.
IMDB score rating – 5.9/10
Wolfman ACTION & FUN rating – 8.5/10
Wolfman over all film rating – 6/10
The future tech is cool. Well maybe not the blocky service home droids and the toaster looking spider psychos are somewhat cheesy. However the drones and the homing in smart bombs were great. Runaway is good fun, it starts off well and has some great ideas but then it just starts to drop off. Saying that Tom Selleck gets to do some acrobatics and Gene Simmons gets to let out one really bonkers scream. Was great to be able to tick off the 80s list with a nice nudge from my brother.
Feel free to let me know your thoughts on the film if you want. But most importantly have fun with the movies.
Keep it filmy…. Mikey Wolf.