Saturday, February 8, 2014

#1,272. Robocop (1987)

Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy

Tag line: "Part man. Part machine. All cop. The future of law enforcement"

Trivia: In Sacramento, CA, a robbery suspect fled into a dark movie theater, where Robocop was playing, to escape the police. He became so engrossed in the movie that he didn't notice the cops had evacuated the theater. When the lights went on, the suspect was taken into custody

It’s hard to set aside my fanboy tendencies when reviewing Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop, in which a murdered police officer is transformed into the ultimate crime-fighting machine. With tons of action, some great scenes, and one hell of a premise, Robocop kicks ass in every conceivable way!

It's the not-too-distant future, and Detroit has become a criminal’s paradise. The police force, which was "purchased" by the Omni Corporation after the city declared bankruptcy, tries to keep the peace. But they are losing, and the streets are now controlled by thugs, thieves, killers, and rapists. 

Officer Murphy (Peter Weller) has just been transferred to the city's worst precinct. While on patrol, he and his new partner, Officer Lewis (Nancy Allen), respond to a call that leads them into a confrontation with Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and his gang, easily the most vicious criminals in all of Detroit. In an abandoned warehouse, Murphy is cornered and shot dead by Boddicker's men. 

But as it turns out, that is not the end of Officer Murphy! 

Moments after his death, Murphy's body is turned over to the Omni Corporation, to be used in a top-secret experiment that, if successful, will bring about a new kind of cop, a cyborg with a bulletproof casing and built-in, state-of-the-art weaponry. Spearheaded by Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer), who went over the head of Omni’s top executive Dick Smith (Ronny Cox) to get funding for his project, the “Robocop Program” is a rousing success, and before long, Robocop is patrolling the streets, taking the fight to lawbreakers. 

But is Robocop truly more machine than man, or will the memories of his “human” past continue to haunt him?

An impressive combination of sci-fi and action, Robocop features more than its share of awesome scenes. The initial showdown between Murphy and Boddicker’s gang is gory as hell (Boddicker blows Murphy’s hand off with a shotgun), and Verhoeven shows us every bloody bit of it (in the uncut version, anyway). Another very graphic sequence takes place inside the Omni Corporation’s board room, where Dick Jones is staging a demonstration of his own pet project, the ED-209, an imposing robot that sports a heavy arsenal. Unfortunately, the ED-209 has a few bugs that need to be worked out, which becomes apparent the moment it blows away Kinney (Kevin Page), the young executive who volunteered to be a test subject! 

The thrills continue when Robocop hits the streets, especially those moments when he's going up against Boddicker and his cronies. On his first night out, Robocop happens upon a robbery in progress, with Emil (Paul McCrane), one of Boddicker’s men, threatening a gas station attendant with an automatic weapon. Aside from being a solid action scene, this confrontation also stirs up memories for Robocop, who, after recognizing Emil as one of Murphy’s killers, recalls his past life.

Yet as great as the action is, there's more to Robocop than shoot-outs and showdowns. In what is one the film's most impressive sequences, we witness the “creation” of Robocop, as seen from his perspective (those moments when, early in the transformation process, he regains consciousness). Strapped to a table in the Omni labs, we see most of what transpires in brief snippets; at one point, Robocop wakes up as the technicians and medical personnel are celebrating the New Year. 

In addition, there are TV news reports detailing everything from crime in Detroit to civil unrest in Mexico, and during these broadcasts there are even a few cool commercial breaks, my favorite being one for a family board game that centers on thermonuclear war. Director Verhoeven tosses everything but the proverbial kitchen sink into Robocop, and as a result you will never be bored watching this movie.

As if all this wasn't enough, Robocop even delves into what it means to be human, to have your body altered but not your memories. By throwing the spotlight on such topics as corporate greed, rampant crime, and personal identity (which comes into play when Robocop / Murphy starts remembering his life before the suit), Verhoeven's film has plenty to say about the human condition. 

So if you dig movies with a message, you’re sure to find something to your liking in Robocop.

And if you don't, well... sit back and enjoy the carnage!


James Robert Smith said...

I have always enjoyed this film. But when it first appeared I have to admit that some of the violence made me squint my eyes. It was some seriously bloody, gory shit goin' down.

CpT GoThMcLaD said...

This movie is an absolute classic I have the same fan boy mentality as Dave though