Dr. Nicholas Conrad (David Ackroyd) is a college physics professor. During a bank robbery he manages to chase down one of the robbers and capture him. The robber, Dominic Leandro (John Moio), is the nephew of a mob boss. The mob boss contacts Kermit Haas (Jose Ferrer) and asks him to make sure that Conrad doesn’t testify in court against his nephew. A bomb is planted in Conrad’s car, but it inadvertently blows up one of Conrad’s assistants, Eddie (Jonathan Segal).
Conrad is put under police protection. Finding it stifling he decides to go back to his normal routine. Another attempt is made on his life by one of Haas’ goons. Conrad is hit on the back with a metal pipe and ends up paralyzed from the waist down. While still in the hospital he receives a phone call from someone threatening to kill his girlfriend, Emily (Anne Schedeen), if he testifies. In fear for Emily’s life Conrad complies.
Conrad has been experimenting with a formula that will move metal. After many attempts the experiment works. Conrad uses the formula to build himself a bulletproof robotic suit that will enable him to walk. With the suit completed Conrad goes after the goon that ruined his life and then after the man behind it all.
“Exo-Man” was released in 1977 and was directed by Richard Irving. It is a made-for-TV superhero science fiction pilot that was never picked up.
The movie was loosely based on the 1972 book “Cyborg” by Martin Caidin. The Exo-man is often referred to as the poor man’s “Iron Man”. Caidin’s book was previously done as “The Six Million Dollar Man” which follows the character in “Cyborg” a lot closer. Caidin also wrote two Indiana Jones novels, as well as the books “The Final Countdown” and “Marooned”.
It is a basic retribution type story. Exo-man doesn’t show up until twenty minutes before the end of the movie. When he does, he wobbles more than anything else. He never really fights anyone, even though he has superhuman strength. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone just scare them. Conrad shows amazing restraint. These goons have tried to kill him twice and succeeded in paralyzing him, killing his work assistant with a firebomb and threatening to kill his girlfriend and all he wants to do is have them arrested.
As far as the suit is concerned it’s kind of a cool looking retro-fifties style, even though it’s cumbersome. It’s bullet proof and with a few switches on his wrists he can maneuver around and punch holes in metal doors. The show is not easy to find but it does have a bit of a following. Mostly from kids seeing it in 1977 and remembering how cool the suit looked.
The movie features some well-known stars of the seventies. In addition to Jose Ferrer are Harry Morgan and a young A. Martinez in some very tight pants. Supposedly Kevin McCarthy plays District Attorney Kamenski but I must have blinked cause I didn’t see him.