Director: Paul Verhoeven
Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith
Part man. Part machine. All cop. The future of law enforcement.
In the near future, the American society has went downwards with violence and greedy corporations taking over the country. It is especially bad in Detroit, Michigan and the money hungry corporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP) is trying to make money off the street violence, but when the police officers learn that OCP has bought the police department, they go on strike and the streets are left wide open for the criminals to roam freely.
Since there is very few people left working for the police department, they start to transfer in new people. Alex Murphy is one of them and he is brutally murdered very quickly while on the job. His corpse is used in one of OCP’s high-tech projects and they are actually able to bring him back to life in a cyborg body under a new name… RoboCop.
The 80’s sure had some great robots. As a kid me and my friends would watch Terminator and RoboCop and later play and argue on who was “the best”. Not who had the best movies, but which one was the coolest robot (Terminator still wins in my book). Time changes with age though and while I looked at Robocop as a fun action film as a kid, I can see something more to it now.
Even if it does play out like some sort of comic book adaptation, the film also deals with corruption and privatization (a very current topic in the politics of my own country right now). It doesn’t try preach or anything, but it is nice to notice some satire hidden in a film that could easily just be slapped with a “dumb violent action movie” sticker, which it probably was by the critics at the time.
The film doesn’t waste any time in getting the show on the roll and it hardly takes five minutes after Alex Murphy has shown up until he is dead and in the robot suit as RoboCop. While the RoboCop might have been impressive back in my younger days, it is hard to ignore just how inefficient he really is. Yeah, he might be able to take some bullets, but he is also very slow and not the smartest cyborg we’ve seen in movies either.
We never really get to know the human side of Alex Murphy and I would have liked there to be a bit more backstory behind him before he turned into RoboCop. I’m sure the actor who portrayed him, Peter Weller, would have liked that aswell. Instead it is the bad guys that get to show off the most in this and thankfully it does have some great ones in Kurtwood Smith as Clarence Boddicker and Miguel Ferrer as Bob Morton.
Director Paul Verhoeven sure has an interesting filmography. On one hand he has the action/sci-fi genre covered with this and Starship Troopers, on the other hand he has also done some of the most memorable (not to be confused with the greatest) erotic mainstream films like Basic Instinct and Showgirls aswell. He didn’t seem to care much about the characters in this film, but does a good enough job in delivering a straight sci-fi action flick.
The production designs and atmosphere of the film however sets it apart from most of the other films that have a similar concept. It is interesting that they didn’t really make everything look very futuristic in the film and not changing everything does make it feel like a nearer future than it would have if they would go all out (which they probably couldn’t afford anyway on this modest budget). It should also be noted that Rob Bottin worked on the special effects for this film.
RoboCop is not a perfect, but it is a damn fun and violent science fiction film that delivers enough entertainment for it to still feel fresh and fun over 25 years later. I’ll admit that I might have a bit of nostalgic feelings towards it that might alter my look on the film, but I do believe that it is a film that every boy will easily fall in love with.