review for Runaway on AllMovie

Runaway (1984)
by Brian J. Dillard review

More Looker than Coma, this workmanlike techno-thriller finds writer/director Michael Crichton again exploring his fascination with the misapplication of science, only this time with characters and dialogue straight out of Screenwriting 101. This is the sort of movie where we find out that Tom Selleck's robot-hunting cop protagonist has a fear of heights and we just know that the film's climax will involve chase sequences at high altitudes. Even so, Runaway proves watchable because of all the energy that might have gone into creating three-dimensional characters instead going into cool sci-fi ideas and special effects. Crichton's vision of a world in which robots have taken over menial labor has a corny tinge to it, but he includes plenty of throwaway details that help his premise ring true. It's unfortunate that the film's modest budget meant that audience had to swallow a future world in which people still dressed exactly like it was 1984, but the money went where it counted: slick rocket launchers and chitinous little robot minions for the enjoyably reptilian villain played by Kiss' Gene Simmons. Cynthia Rhodes proves a winsome presence, but her doe-eyed demeanor does little to challenge the script's damsel-in-distress clichés; it's a little distressing to see a female cop character who wants to date her male partner practically the day she meets him. Kirstie Alley has more fun in a small role as one of the villain's unfortunate underlings, unleashing the same raw-edged, neurotic sex appeal she displayed in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. As for star Selleck -- then at the height of his Magnum, P.I. popularity -- he navigates the film's numerous set pieces with action star aplomb; unfortunately, Runaway didn't deviate far from the likable actor's typically lukewarm box-office results.