TOM SELLECK and Cynthia Rhodes play a pair of strong silent partners in "Runaway," an entertaining, light-hearted cops and robots action adventure decked out in high-tech finery.
It's set in Vancouver in a near future, when robots have replaced migrant workers, receptionists and, in the hero's case, his wife. Lois, a Series 12 housekeeper, acts as his son's governess, his cook and his social secretary. Lately, however, the gentle, efficient house models have begun to kill their masters. Will the boy be next?
Writer-director Michael Crichton, noted for his tangles with technology in earlier films, such as "Westworld," re-examines the terrors of tomorrowland here with an even hand, fast pace and sly humor.
Selleck and Rhodes, as well-matched a team as "Cagney and Lacey," are new partners assigned to a computerized police suad assigned to turn off, track down and otherwise immobilize runaway robots. When the chips are down, they respond.
Selleck plays the engaging Sgt. Jack Ramsay, a tough but sensitive guy, a modification of Selleck's TV detective. He shows a lot of dimples in this film, his magnum opus to date. Rhodes, a terrific dancer who showed her star potential in "Flashdance" and "Staying Alive," plays a competent but feminine cop. She wears high heels, but doesn't trip in them. She even runs to the rescue atop a pair of pumps that would give most girls vertigo.
Foley grapples with vertigo, however, when Crichton borrows from Hitchcock in the acrophobia department (and later bows to "Pscyho"). We find Foley either up a skyscraper pestered by a passel of battery- powered arachnids or menaced by a thinking man's vacuum cleaner armed with a kitchen knife.
Body heat-seeking missiles take the place of old-fashioned bullets, and villains don't carry guns, they write computer programs. Gene Simmons of the rock group Kiss is Dr. Luther, the evil programmer behind all this computerized mayhem. Why? He's just bad. Forget characterization and motivation.
Depth isn't one of the film's strong suits. "Runaway" is as simply plotted as a grade-B Western -- not a learning experience, but a bang-up time. RUNAWAY -- At area theaters.