In a world where robots are common place, made to help the population with mundane tasks it becomes apparent that someone has been tampering with some robots to do their evil bidding when two engineers are murdered by robots. Sergeant Jack Ramsey (Tom Selleck) of the Runaway squad, a unit devised to tackle out of control robots, along with his new assistant (Cynthia Rhodes) get the call to investigate these murders. What they find is a link between these killer robots and a new weapon but as they get closer to uncovering the truth the more danger they find themselves in from the evil genius behind it all, Charles Luther (Gene Simmons).
Many years before we had Will Smith as a ludite cop in a robot world we had Tom Selleck as a cop in a robot world. Selleck's Jack Ramsey may not the cool ludite which Smith was but "Runaway" and "I Robot" shares a fair few similarities. We have robots made to help humans but a few have been made bad and of course there is an evil genius behind it all.
But "Runaway" was released back in 1984 before we had lots of fancy CGI and it has to be said that watching this old sci-fi movie now is quite amusing with all these prop robots which look as dangerous as a wind up toy dog. Yet at the same time some of the suggested technology such as a remote controlled drone with a camera on so that the cops can look into a house is now not as far fetched as they seem. In truth this sci-fi look of a word where robots play an important part in day to day life is now what makes "Runaway" entertaining in a cheesy sort of way. Although I am a little curious because there is no mention at the start of this being set in the future and other than the robots everything else is early 80s so I do wonder when it was suppose to be set.
The thing is beyond the fun of this early 80s look at a world where robots are used the rest of the movie is only so so. And that is because it is the generic evil genius up to no good whilst we have a couple of cops in danger as they investigate. Okay so Tom Selleck is always entertaining when he plays a cop and Cynthia Rhodes whilst playing a stereotypical character is enjoyable but beyond the outfits and gadgets they are just typical characters. Even the amusing aspect of Gene Simmons of KISS fame as the evil Luther does little to make it any more original. But there is also a small part for a smoking hot Kirstie Alley which allows for Selleck to show his flirtatious and humorous side.
What this all boils down to is that you could call "Runaway" the "I Robot" of the 80s but it is incredibly dated and a lot of fun for being such despite ending up with a generic framework for the story. On a side note it is surprising how many of the robots looked like the sort of thing which would show up in the series "Robot Wars".