RoboCop (1987) Directed by Paul Verhoeven. With Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’ Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Ray Wise and Paul McCrane.
I fondly remember seeing RoboCop as a mid-teen (sorry Dad) and being impressed by its loud explosions, gun battles, highway chases and overall attitude. I view it now as a dressed-to-impress satire of quick-fire American news and commercials – almost as if Dutch maestro Paul Verhoeven decided to serve the U.S a massive overdose of its own excess.
Seeing the film after many years, it’s the satirical element that really stands out. The action is noisy and brash, the bad guys are overblown to the point of verging on comical, yet the violence, particularly the scene in which Peter Weller is blasted to bits before his Robo transformation, still holds shock value. Technically, as you might expect for an ‘R’ rated science fiction film coming out in the late 80’s, the special effects are something of a mixed bag of bolts. At times the FX look worse than bad Ray Harryhausen, especially when a clunky looking ED209 wobbles into the scene, but the now iconic Robo suit really holds up.
Amid the violence and noise, there lives a sad story here too as Murphy’s consciousness, now trapped inside the RoboCop suit, battles with his programming to ascertain his own identity. Flashbacks taunt him and like Frankenstein’s monster, there is a strong sense of pity felt throughout. While the silliness prevents it from attaining the classic status of say The Terminator, it still proves to be a curious mix of satire, overblown ’80’s action and good old-fashioned sci-fi. 3.5/5