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I saw this movie when I was younger, probably in the very early 2000’s. I believe it was a made for TV movie based on my memory of length and quality, though it may well have been a TV show episode.

The movie itself was set in/likely from the 80’s or very early 90’s. The leading role was a relatively stereotypical looking “action movie hero” for the time with lighter hair. He arrived in I believe something like a Ford Bronco or similar sized SUV from GM or Chrysler.

He arrived at some kind of complex, I believe set in the desert and completely concrete. Inside he met a female researcher with brunette hair, working on AI and other scientific projects. The entire building had a control computer/AI system much like VIKI in iRobot.

At some point in the movie the AI turns for some reason, trapping both characters in the building and attempting to kill them. I remember vividly a scene in a lab room where a small droid/roving robot was attempting to attack the male lead.

My memory of the ending is more foggy, but I believe it required them to break into a central control room to shut down the computer system. They were successful and from there able to escape.

I’ve been trying to look for years as I loved the movie when young, it sparked my interest in technology and AI, and all these years later as other memories have come and gone this has always stuck with me.

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    How about MacGyver - The Human Factor Season 2 Episode 1. A more detailed plot breakdown can be found here - MacGyver Season 2 Episode – Adam J Limbert Dec 18 '18 at 7:06
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    Adam! That's it! I honestly can't believe I never thought about looking into MacGyver episodes before. Rewatching I'm obviously off on some aspects. But I can't thank you enough, I've been thinking for years this would just haunt me and I'd never be able to find it, but I'm watching as I type this. – FantomLightning Dec 18 '18 at 7:24
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    @FantomLightning If Adam's answer is correct consider accepting it by clicking on the tick by his posted answer. – TheLethalCarrot Dec 18 '18 at 9:36
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MacGyver Season 2 Episode 1 - The Human Factor is the episode you are looking for. For a more detailed plot breakdown (consider this your language warning), read here.

As per your description, this episode:

  • was produced in the 1980s (1986)
  • has an action hero with light hair (MacGyver) who has been selected to try to defeat the computer controlled defences of a subterranean desert complex named the Strategic Research And Development Administration (STRADA) by hitching a ride (unnoticed) in a SUV or truck (noted in MacGyver's voice-over: "I was kind of hoping to catch a ride from a couple of the guards and here they were." and a later conversation between MacGyver and Ludlum: "You came in with the truck, didn't you?" Source: Springfield!Springfield!
  • contains a researcher, Dr. Jill Melissa Ludlum who is said to have the following credentials:

    PhD. Systems design, Oxford University, 1980. the Ludlum cybernetic circuit. '82 to '83 took a year off for personal reasons. '83 to '86, immersed in the STRADA project.

    and who's "faith in machines has created a fifth-generation computer" which is "just a blink away from true artificial intelligence." (Note: Dr. Ludlum is blonde, which differs only slightly from your description.)

  • has a computer that runs STRADA named Sandi that controls the cameras and security drones that are armed with 20,000 volt lasers. A drone look a bit like a Dalek or R2-D2. When MacGyver breaks into the complex, the purpose is to test the facilities defences. When Dr. Ludlum calls an end to the simulation, Sandi refuses (thinking that the threat is real), and MacGyver and Dr. Ludlum become trapped in the facility and must fight for their lives. There is a lot of laser fire (see video). After many perilous situations, MacGyver fries the computer with electricity.

This episode was a season premier, so I imagine the budget was a bit higher and it may have give the impression that it was a bigger production that a standard TV episode (thus leading to the idea that it might have been a movie rather than a TV show). Some of the themes here follow on from films such as WarGames (1983) and The Terminator (1984).

  • Is that the one that starts with an elevator opening on the wrong floor? – VBartilucci Dec 18 '18 at 14:26
  • You might be right, there might have been a scene shortly after MacGyver breaks in that relates to this. – Adam J Limbert Dec 18 '18 at 22:29

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