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Runaway  rating

Lacklustre near future police procedural

The idea of Michael Crichton (director of Westworld, author of Jurassic Park and so many others) returning to the director’s chair to direct a film about malfunctioning robots must have seemed a no-brainer. Add to that a plot that has the cops chasing down rogue malfunctioning robots element (going for a Bladerunner vibe?) and the dollar signs were no doubt flashing green. Shame then, that the end result is so disappointing.

Tom Selleck plays a cop who hunts ‘runaway’ robots– a pretty two dimensional cop, but its not his fault, it’s the script. Mmhh, he’s got vertigo you say..? Wonder what the odds are he will have to fight a bad guy on a high rise..?? This cop gets a new partner he needs to show the ropes. (She’s single, you say? Tom is widowed? MMhh.. wonder if there will be an chemistry there..). The ropes being shown in this case, are the skills in hunting down malfunctioning robots. The robots in this case are definitely near future – helping with mundane tasks and not trying to be lifelike or androids. However a few cases come up which have evidence to suggest these are manipulated malfunctions, and the mystery deepens.

Alas, despite Tom Selleck being reasonably engaging, and there being more than a few decent ideas neatly presaging the future, this is executed with such a lack of panache that it has aged terribly – and it wasn’t even much of a success when it first came out.

It’s interesting to see ideas such as drones, iPads smart homes and video calling all imagined here way back in 1984, and married to the none-more-Crichtonesque idea of how technology might be used against us, there’s an interesting setup here. But it plays with the production value and script quality of an episode of TJ Hooker, and not the big budget cinema event it purported to be. You can see the wires holding the ‘drone’ in the air, and the fireworks look like the sparklers I had last Bonfire night. Script is on the nose, and gets increasingly cliched, sapping what suspense and mystery there might have been. Even the score has been made in ultra 80’s style, the normally reliable Jerry Goldsmith producing a forgettable piece of synth scoring.

It’s a real shame, as there is imagination in the concept, but no flare at all in the execution, despite Tom giving it his best ‘leading man’ vibes.

Save your desire for some 80’s retro, and give this a miss.

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