What happens when Detroit cop Alex Murphy is killed by a brutal ganglord in the line of duty? Duh—he gets Six-Million-Dollar-Man’d by a controversial mega-company, and transformed into a kick-ass crime-fighting cyborg!
We speak, of course, of director Paul Verhoeven’s brilliant dystopian sci-fi epic, RoboCop! On the surface, the film seems an über-violent and vapid popcorn flick, but with subtly inserted jabs at the concepts of fascism, consumerism, media and technology run amok and the Machiavellian nature of mankind, RoboCop actually proves a thoughtful, almost satirical piece of work.
The city of Detroit finds itself in a precarious financial situation (sound familiar?) and allows the so-very-obviously evil Omni Consumer Products to take control of their crippled police force. This doesn’t sit well with the boys in blue, but when the experimental RoboCop android/cyborg all but rids the city of crime, it seems the tides of fate may have changed. OR HAVE THEY?! Pensions and salaries are cut to the bone and job performance begins to suffer as RoboCop systematically brings crime to its knees. Adding to the confusion, a hidden directive buried deep within RoboCop’s programming allows him more sentience than his designers had intended, and he begins to show signs of Murphy’s consciousness.
Just how much of the man is left inside the cyborg, and will his mortal leanings lead to a violation of the laws of robotics? Equal parts Judge Dredd (the comics, not that awful Stallone movie) and Blade Runner, RoboCop was Verhoeven’s first major motion picture and, despite a definite cheese factor, maintains an outrageously fun and entertaining pace throughout.
No, there were no Oscars won, but should one be looking for the perfect summer blockbuster at our beloved Jean Cocteau Cinema, one need look no further.
And while we’re at it, let’s all thanks the crew down there for providing us so many great older films to enjoy. Certainly, if Repo Man wasn’t exciting enough, RoboCop seals the deal.