Director: Paul Verhoeven .
Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Daniel O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer . USA. 1h 43m.
I’d like to start this off just announcing that Robocop has been one of my all time favourite movies since i first saw it, the effect has been massive on my day to day life, so I’ll try to keep this review short but I could probably write a book on Robocop.
Comparisons could be made between this robotic man of justice and many hero’s and monsters from the past, being created by man from bloody remains and what could be seen as (techno)magic he is akin to a sci fi golem. Either way the film became an instant cult classic inspiring a few sequels a lame TV show and much music shenanigans.
The film starts as it means to go on, impressive modern yuppies showing off their toys and the unfortunate “everyday man” getting pwned. Dick ()wants to show off his new military robot the ED209 which malfunctions and blasts away Kenny (I swear he should have been wearing a red jumper from the original Star Treck Show).
Murphy, a mild mannered all round good guy cop has been transferred to Detroit, but with the rise in crime and promise of a newly built city, his first day soon becomes his last. After becoming tight as fuck with his new partner Lois (Nancy Allen) he has a run in with a small ruthless gang (they should have has a cool name) led by a psychotic nut job Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith). who orchestrates a bloody shootout with Murphy which resulted in the second most “paused and played frame by frame” scenes in the film. After Murphy’s gory demise his body is secretly acquired by Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) and his team and they transform him into a unique one man army and most advanced cyborg known to mankind… and pretty much send him out to do cool shit and save Detroit.
After doing lots of outrageously cool shit he has a run in with one of the crims who blew him into pieces, this sparks off some memories and causes Murphy to go on a manhunt after the men who wronged him, simultaneously he also attempts to track down his family.
Working his way through the gang he eventually comes face to face with Clarence, whose arrest and ties to the corporation that built Robocop causes a violent showdown.
So many comparisons can be made with older stories, not only is Robocop the lone warrior samurai but he’s also an creation of mankind used to serve and protect, similar to a golem or you could argue maybe even Frankenstein’s monster. Whatever his origins the outcome is that we had a very new hero for a while. Surprisingly so many of the bad guys had their own cult groups, it was just cool to exist in this future, no matter who you were, but due to his rite of passage, I can understand why no one wanted to be Murphy/Robocop, the prize could only be won after getting 70% of your body blown away. The only person who had all the fun was Brixby Snyder and he’d buy that for a dollar.
Together all the cast and the cheesy commercials that Paul Verhoeven inheritably incorporated into most of his retro flicks parody’s modern culture, painfully detailing how careless and despicable mankind has become, it often pokes fun at just how shitty life can be in the fast paced cities and on the whole points out where we are obviously going wrong.
Considering that this sci fi epic is an action movie there is a fair amount of comedy and the film is pretty relentless and doesn’t slow down for much. What is striking is that while Murphy’s character is pretty standard, he’s a caring guy, funny and level headed, after becoming Robocop he has his memory and personality wiped, he is literally a tool for OCP, but eventually as his character creeps back in the cyborg is pretty much one of the rare people who actually gives a shit and has a heart.
Paul Verhoeven has amazing vision and lots of signatures appear in most of his sci-fi films such as Starship Troopers (1997) and Total Recall (1990), you’ll notice dodgy advertising and similar action shots in there also, despite the content being so very different. This is definitely a groove that was comfortable in for some time. although by Hollow Man things had changed a lot.
For a modern/futuristic sci fi film it really works, the combination of advanced robotics on similar grimy streets that we walk daily settles in notion that no matter how far we advance technologically we will still have the same darn problems to face just because we’re human. No amount of shiny casing will instantly change us into something better and different.
Being a long time enthusiast of the film I often get blinded by the dazzling shiny robotic suit and lights for many years and can see nothing wrong with the film. I’m sure there are some continuity errors and there some of the flashbacks are impossibly from a first person perspective, but nothing so glaring that it detracts from the film. I do often wonder how Robocop craps, he eats a baby food and therefore it has to come out right.
Between the flash interiors of science labs, posh offices we see a yuppie elite swanning around in their own world, and yet our knight in shining armour spends most of his time slumming on the streets and decrepit police station. I often wonder how the film would be perceived today, with the modern view of police officers in the USA being quite negative, would we have warmed to Robocop now?
For me this anti hero that comes sailing into a lawless town and becomes the new sheriff is a unique kinda gunman, but the wild west that he patrols is too similar to my own back yard. Possibly something more prophetic than we’re willing to admit but watching the bad guys run for the hills and slowly being hunted one by one is amazing. Viva La Robocop!
R – Robocop 2 (1990), Robocop 3 (1993), Robcop (2014), Running Man (1987), Starship Troopers (1997) and Total Recall (1990),
L – Cinema Cyborgs
A – Why Robocop is actually a scumbag, Robocop my one true love, Is Robocop a Golem or Frankenstein’s Monster?
5S – Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Ray Wise,
Vs – Robocop Vs Hector,