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"Runaway" on DVD


Runaway is a real Michael Crichton tour de force. Not only did the famed author think up the original story and turn it into a screenplay, he also directed the Vancouver-shot film.

It turned out well, too.

Runaway is an imaginative yarn of the near future in which household and industrial robots are practically ubiquitous, so much so that a special police unit has been formed to handle their inevitable breakdowns (called "runaways").

Tom Selleck plays Jack Ramsay, a police sergeant in the Runaway unit. He's a widower single parent and, at Runaway's opening, has assigned to him a new partner (well played by Cynthia Rhodes). They immediately head out for their first gig, a minor malfunction that sees an agricultural robot wreaking havoc on a corn field.

This sets the scene and the mood very well, and gets the audience ready for the next renegade robot, a far more serious "breakdown" in which a domestic robot is holed up in a residence, armed with a gun it has already used to deadly effect.

It turns out, however, that this was no ordinary runaway. It was, in fact, a deliberate sabotage designed by a high tech mad scientist (Kiss' Gene Simmons) bent on unleashing robotic terror by selling his technologies (including a smart bullet that chases its target around corners) to the highest bidder.

By the time the closing credits roll we've been treated to a high tech thrill ride with remote controlled attack droids, deadly spider-like robots, and a high rise cliffhanging finale.

Selleck is an underrated actor and he's very good in Runaway, bringing strength, bravery and vulnerability to his role. Simmons makes a delicious villain, and Kirstie Alley has a meaty supporting role as his moll.

Runaway is a good yarn, well conceived and well made, and a story that gives us a glimpse into a robot-laced future that, with any luck, won't be too far off.

The DVD is presented in widescreen and Pan&Scan on opposite sides, and audio/video quality (the sound is Dolby 4.0 "discrete") are very good. Extras include talent files and the trailer.

Runaway, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
100 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1)/Pan&Scan, Dolby 4.0 "discrete" Digital
Starring Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes, Gene Simmons, Kirstie Alley
Written and Directed by Michael Crichton


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Updated May 13, 2006