Cert: 18 Runtime: 102 mins Director: Paul Verhoeven Cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith and Ray Wise
Dead or alive, you’re coming with me!
RoboCop is the latest film to be re-made by an unimaginative Hollywood, back in 1987 the world was introduced to a Detroit of the future. RoboCop for me was a film that I saw at an early age, originally as the animated TV show then the two films. So before I venture to the cinema to watch it, I thought we would go back to the original. What is RoboCop? After Omni Consumer Products (OCP) announces that it bought out the Detroit police department, the department decides to go on strike. Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) gets transferred from Metro South to the West. He and his partner, Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen), track down a group of criminals led by Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith). Unfortunately, Murphy was killed by Clarence’s gang. Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer), one of OCP’s employees, transforms Murphy’s corpse into Robocop, to compete with another employee Dick Jones (Ronny Cox)’ ED-209. Robocop’s tests are successful. Unfortunately, Robocop rediscovers his memories (when he was Alex Murphy), and now knows he has to find and arrest Clarence Boddicker. He realizes that Clarence is working for Bob Morton’s competition Dick Jones. Now, Robocop must stop both Clarence and Dick Jones.
This film starts off hard and fast, and remains perfectly entertaining throughout its short run-time. It’s jam-packed with pulpy hardcore action, with loads of shootouts, chases, and some really gnarly kills. The film strikes a perfect pace, never lingering too long on any of the action or drama, but still offering just enough to satisfy. The film gets really extreme with its exaggerated level of acting, its level of bloodshed, and its satire, but it’s awesome that way.Most of the film’s appeal, however, is that it’s so fundamental and simple. It goes through a basic death-and-rebirth storyline, which provides the origin of the character and drives the rest of the story through retribution and corporate conspiracy. There is just enough attention to the characters to make them relevant and endearing.On top of that, however, the film also packs in a lot of thought-provoking ideas. Some of the funniest and most memorable scenes include faux news reports and commercials with a strong satirical edge, which provides more background on the crazy world RoboCop inhabits. The film breezes through numerous themes regarding capitalism, the mass media, gentrification, and overall dystopia. The film also raises a bunch of pertinent questions regarding technology and its application, especially with a strong man-vs-machine theme at work. Alex Murphy proves definitively that law enforcement can’t be fully automated; an officer needs human compassion and free-will.
No matter how hard the enemies try to destroy all that makes Murphy human, he triumphs every time, over the machine of society and the machine within him.This film features some crazy and intense photography, the likes of which only Paul Verhoeven can direct. The shots are often tight, with some scenes that use wild and unusual angles. There are a number of point-of-view shots, which are ingenious. Camera movements are solid and smooth. Editing is decent. Acting is over-the-top and exaggerated, for fantastic effect; Peter Weller and Nancy Allen are pretty earnest and great to watch, while Kurtwood Smith, Ronny Cox, and Miguel Ferrer all excel at being bad guys we love to hate. Writing is concise and sharp, and there are quite a few good, memorable lines. This production uses some cheap and outdated props and sets, but the architecture and technology is often used to create a unique post-modern look and style. Costumes are great, and the special effects hold up well. Music is pretty catchy too. RoboCop is one of those films that feels longer than it is, because within the confines of its simple and fundamental story, it crafts a dense storytelling experience that’s full of energy as it is full of ideas. Best of all, it’s a film with some serious guts: a piece of pulp sci-fi the likes of which you probably won’t find too often in Hollywood anymore.