Introduction to RoboCop
I hadn’t seen RoboCop in at least 20 years, but was so excited when it popped up on our weekly bad sci-fi movie wheel. We’ve had two hits in a row, and now we were in for yet another treat. I am a huge fan of Paul Verhoeven’s other magnum opus, and there’s a similar kind of satirical vibe going on here. It’s gruesome, funny, heartbreaking and full of action all at once, if a little less on-the-nose with its satire. Anyway, without further ado, let’s get into the story of RoboCop.
The Story – Spoilers Abound
Alex Murphy is a cop in a near-apocalyptic Detroit that’s just signed a deal to allow Omni Consumer Products to run its police force, because what could possibly go wrong with that? OCP plans to roll out the new ED-209 autonomous, robotic police units across the whole city. Of course, their real plan is to use Detroit as a sort of test case before they sell the massively over-powered weapon to the military. After a disastrous demonstration in front of the executives, one of the OCP executives decides to revive a now-dead project: RoboCop. After Alex transfers to a new department, he is gunned down brutally on his first day.
Basically melted by gunfire, Alex is the first “volunteer” for conversion into a cyborg cop. In probably my favorite sequence of the movie, he gains consciousness repeatedly during his conversion. Alex returns to his old (but still new?) precinct and begins to show off his skills. He is extremely effective, much to OCP’s delight. However, when his former partner, Anne, reveals that she recognizes him, he starts to go a bit haywire. Discovering his true identity, Alex goes on a revenge mission to kill those responsible for his death.
Alex tracks down the criminals who killed him, and finds out that their leader now works for the OCP executive who created the RoboCop project in the first place. With the police now largely against him, Alex goes into hiding while he fulfills his personal mission. Alex and Anne succeed in luring the gang into an ambush and, while both are grievously injured, they succeed. He has but one target left: OCP. Alex forces his way to the board room of OCP and, after having his last programmed restriction removed, kills the executive. Fin.
What RoboCop Did Right
There’s a lot going on in this movie that’s just delightful. It’s a heck of an action movie. Really one of the best. So let’s get into why.
Alex Murphy is an excellent protagonist. In a very short time, the movie establishes him as a good cop, and a good person, and we really feel for him when things go bad.
This costume is just so good, and Peter Weller does such an excellent job moving in it. His voice, movement and demeanor are all perfect for the role. He freaking nails it.
What RoboCop Did Wrong
Some of the effects were… clunky. ED-209 is animated in stop-motion and while I kind of love it, it’s rough. Same deal when someone falls out of a window. It’s just bad. Why they didn’t do a Hans Gruber, I’ll never know.
While they put Alex over pretty hard, the rest of the cops (including Anne) are just so flat. I couldn’t even tell you any of their names, or why they’re so willing to turn on him so fast.
It’s a little too gory for most, if we’re being honest. It didn’t really bother me, but I know at least one person who walked out of the theater in the first 20 minutes. Now, granted, it’s not for everyone, but that does limit my ability to recommend the movie.
RoboCop encapsulates a specific kind of action movie just so well that it is and should be legendary. It’s right up there with Die Hard and The Terminator in that regard. While I personally love those movies more than this, I wouldn’t begrudge anyone disagreeing. If you want a gory, action-packed, hilarious time, go watch RoboCop.