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In the near future, when robots become commonplace, Sgt. Jack Ramsey (Selleck) handles cases involving malfunctioning robots.He gets involved in the schemes of a twisted genius named Dr. Charles Luther (Simmons), resulting in a cat and mouse game with such weapons as guided bullets, rolling bombs and acid squirting robotic spiders.
This film contains examples of:
- AI Is a Crapshoot: Averted - there is no AI, just machines doing what they are programmed to do, or malfunctioning because somebody didn't do what they were supposed to do.
- Chase Scene: A fairly memorable one - Luther attacks a police convoy with roving smart bombs by dropping them from a trapdoor in his car, so the heroes can't even see where he's attacking them from.
- Death by Genre Savviness: Luther - he knows all the angles except the one Ramsey makes a living on; any system can fail. Ramsey thus kills him by feeding him to his own killbots.
- Dueling Movies: With one of the biggest actors at the time and written/directed by a science-fiction legend, this film was projected to be the major sci-fi film of 1984. Instead, it got overshadowed by a B-movie about a robot assassin played by an Austrian bodybuilder who barely spoke English, co-starring alongside actors who only had theater experience, and written/directed by an unknown (whose last film credit was Piranha II).
- Homing Projectile: the infrared homing rounds.
- Made of Explodium: Luther's creations.
- No OSHA Compliance: The skyscraper construction site. Justified because only robots are meant to be there.
- Painfully-Slow Projectile: The homing bullets of Luther's gun.
- Pistol Pose: Used on the posters and video covers.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Ramsey is scared of heights. Knowing this, Luther sets the exhange in the climax to happen in an unfinished skyscraper.