|"See, I got this problem. Cops don't like me. So I don't like cops."|
|Time: 102 mins.|
Genre: Science Fiction/Action/Drama
Academy Award Nominations for Best Film Editing and Best Sound.
It's scary to say that this is Paul Verhoeven's most fully-formed and heartfelt action film. However, it is the only film of his that tries to develop its' characters and in the end makes you care about what happens to them. All the other lead roles in his movies have been either degenarates or cartoon characters. Maybe, before he directs again, he should re-watch his best movie and try to remember what quality filmmaking is about. Does that mean I think ROBOCOP is one of the best films ever made? No, but it is one of the better action ones. It's a movie that made you stand up and take notice. It also stands the test of time. It's just as clever and cool as it was 12 years ago and amazingly, the violence is right on par with what's being done today. That may or may not be a good thing, but it proves that for once in his career Verhoeven was ahead of the curve.
I remember seeing this film in the theater at the age of 19 and just being blown away. I had never encountered anything like it. Even I, a quiet little suburban girl, was seduced by the raw power of the ultraviolent images. The saving grace of this film, what makes it more that just another gore fest, is that it had a point. Though the good guy doesn't exactly win he's forever trapped in the body of a robot justice is more than served and the bad guys get their due. Not a complex message, but it's extremely effective. What surprised me when I recently watched the film again is that it's not really as violent as I remembered. There's a lot of gunfire and things being blown up, but there are only three horribly graphic, super-disgusting, extra-pulpy scenes that would be anything different than you would see in say a LETHAL WEAPON movie. One could argue that he didn't really need to be that graphic, but without seeing it we would be unable to understand RoboCop's pain. Believe me, there's no way you could not connect with his inner demons after watching what happens to him.
The film takes place in Detroit, in the not so distant future. The everyday reality is pretty much the same as it is today. A massive corporation, IDG, basically runs the city, including the police department. The corporation must clean up Old Detroit the worst cesspool of crime you've ever seen in 6 months in order to be able to start building it's city of the furture. It doesn't matter how many cops are murdered in the process, crime must be stopped. The senior vice president comes up with a new crime-fighting robot that will take over for the humans. It's test run at the lastest board meeting is less than successful, reducing one of the executives to a bloody pulp after he already surrendered. (This scene gives the phrase "Oh my God, they killed Kenny!" a whole new meaning.) This disaster opens the door for a competing project for a human/cyborg police officer and thanks to the work of cop-killer Clarence Bodicker, they soon have their first test subject.
Alex Murphy, a family man transferred to the Old Detroit division, doesn't last very long in his new precinct. Hot on the trail of Clarence and his men, it becomes more than apparent to Murphy, that Clarence doesn't just kill cops to keep from getting arrested, he does it because he enjoys causing them pain. They destroy Murphy's body, in a way you won't soon forget. If you're at all squeamish, this is a good time to use the restroom. The corporation takes his battered body and creates the ultimate law enforcement machine RoboCop. They believe that because Murphy is now mostly machine that he has no mind or will of his own. They supposedly "erase" his memories, but they don't get everything and he soon sets out on a course of revenge to punish the men who did this to him. It turns out that the corruption of the city goes all the way to the top. They try to destroy RoboCop, but with the help of his old partner, RoboCop/Murphy brings justice to Old Detroit. It turns out that the cyborg is more human than the men who created him. How deep.
Without the brilliance of Peter Weller's performance this film would have been a joke. His physicality in the suit, which must have been the biggest pain in the ass to be in, is dead-on perfect. He moves like you'd think a robot would. If he's not 100% believable, the movie doesn't work. On top of that, from beneath the costume, he exudes his humanity, which makes you care for the character. A first-rate performance I'm sure he didn't get enough credit for. All the other characters in the film are pretty cookie-cutter, but they get the job done. The other standout is Kurtwood Smith as Clarence Bodicker. Great bad guy, great name. He's so evil and slimy, but in a real wimpy sort of way. You know he got kicked around a lot as a child, with a name like Clarence, and he's paying back society in spades. The special effects, which were brilliant in 1987, remarkably hold up pretty well.
If you're a fan of sci-fi/action movies and haven't seen this one, rent it ASAP. Screw STARSHIP TROOPERS, this is Verhoeven's best work. As for the rest of you, if you don't mind a little blood and guts with your popcorn, this is a classic, clever and entertaining movie that will have you wondering about where our society is headed. Hopefully not in the same direction.