Directed and written by Michael Crichton
Produced by Michael I. Rachmil, Lisa Faversham, Kurt Villadsen
Starring Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes, Gene Simmons, Kirstie Alley, Stan Shaw, G.W. Bailey
Robotic ubiquity in The Future of 1984 necessitates the constitution of police divisions who resolve crimes and mischances resulting from the malfunction of hacked and wayward automatons. When a domestic model wastes its proprietress, an investigating sergeant (Selleck) from one such squad paired with a brainish blonde cop (Rhodes) chance upon foul play perpetrated by a flagitious career culprit (Simmons) who exercises a rare verve for programming and tactics. Viewers oughtn’t expect intrigue or depth on the order of Asimov, Gibson, Shirow, et al. from Crichton’s silliest cinematic venture; novel technological innovations throughout are intended solely to occupy interest and forward plot: reconnoitering drones anticipating their contemporary equivalents, a reinforced pistol that shoots detonating tracker projectiles, wheeled, remote-controlled bombs and inexplicably sexapedal robot “spiders” armed with acidic needles are all sufficiently fun to upstage the human players. Selleck’s adequate and tetchier than usual in the lead, his individual mustache immaculate even when his phiz is scathed by vitriol. Bereft of histrionic range yet far more Luciferian sans stage makeup, Simmons delightfully hams every line and crime as his truculent antagonist with facetious, stentorian delivery and a sinister visage only a Satan could love. Anyone deluded that Alley might’ve been at all appealing in the mid-’80s will be promptly disabused by her every guttural utterance, but she fits as a bitchy moll. Alas, Jerry Goldsmith’s only wholly electronic score is also among his few truly amateurish attempts, but a few of his FM tones do tickle the ear. Ceaselessly footling and diverting, it’s the class of movie that the cousins Globus would have been thrilled to produce (before stinting on its effects budget), seemingly geared to appeal to the average teenage boy. Howbeit, this feature’s cult fanbase is distinguished by its worst member: Nicolae Ceausescu cited Runaway as his preferent pic, adverting frequently to Selleck and his character during the summary trial after which he and his spouse were executed. Evidently, Columbia didn’t distribute in Romania during his regime.