Director: Paul Verhoeven
Writers: Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner
Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Daniel O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, and Miguel Ferrer
Thirty-five years after the film was first released RoboCop has been remastered for a 4K re-release. The classic action sci-fi film follows Alex Murphey a cop who is murdered on the job only to be brought back to life as RoboCop, merging what little is left of him with robotics to make the ultimate police officer. Even though his memory is wiped he starts to investigate who he once was and seeks out revenge on those that killed him in the first place.
The film is set in an unspecified date in the near future, where crime is running rampant in the city of Detroit. Police are being killed almost daily and gangs run the streets, doing whatever they want. It’s a dystopian future where the news about two former presidents dying is intersected with adverts, showing a world drowning in corporate greed. Omni Consumer Products, the company who designed RoboCop, have other inventions they’re working on, and they don’t care if they’re flawed as long as they make money. There’s corruption at every level, with OCP controlling the police and allowing criminals to get off free at their whim.
Even though this is a silly over-the-top action film, and it can’t be stated enough that it’s ridiculous with people getting shot tons of times and surviving in almost every shoot out, there is a really dark tone to everything. The city of Detroit is presented to be really grimy and dark, a cesspit for criminals. Murphy is completely separated from his family after his supposed death, with no resolution or reunion, they still think he’s dead at the end of the film, leaving a bleakness over the victory at the end. The violence is extreme with limbs flying off, massive bullet holes and a lot of blood.
With the effects, it feels a lot more akin to an 80s body horror film than an action film. The effects and prosthetics for when Murphy takes off the RoboCop helmet, and you can see his face melding with the electronics looks like something from a Cronenberg film. Despite the bleakness of the film there’s still a good sense of humour. The mix of horrific world news and silly adverts is good satire that is just as relevant now as it was thirty-five years ago. The action is so insane that is becomes funny to watch.
The only real disappointment about the film is that some of the themes seem a little underbaked. It deals with heavy topics like greed, what it means to be alive, revenge, but only really in passing. At one point Murphy goes back to his home and starts to remember his family, but it’s not really hard hitting. The digs at capitalism are there, but the corruption isn’t fully explored. The film starts to question how much of Murphy remains within the mind of Robocop, but that seems to be swept to the side in favour of more action.
RoboCop is a classic, and still holds up. It may look a little dated in places, but the action and story still work. It feels ahead of its time and it’s aged a lot better than most 1980s action flicks.
Thanks for reading! If you liked my review, please subscribe to never miss a post: