ROBOCOP, Paul Verhoeven 1987



Yesterday was a good day for me, not only because Spring seems to be real at last but because I enjoyed a mini buying spree  which  made me feel very very happy. And one of my best purchases was RoboCop. Yeah! Eventually it’s mine and couldn’t wait to see it after so long long time, so as soon as I arrived home we watched it and enjoyed one of the best sci-fi 80s movie, amazed by how I was allowed to watch so much violence in my childhood with no major consequences as nowadays parents and adult people intend to convince that can affect kids in a very wrong way.


But let’s focus on the movie first and then open for discussion.


Set in Detroit in a not so far away future, the city development is endangered by crime. OCP, Omni Consumer Products executive chief has designed a new Detroit city to be built over the old and damaged city ashes but in order to proceed with the plans crime must be erradicated or at least controlled as not to risk the huge investment, that’s why, Police Department is bought by the company, something not well received by cops, who threat to start a strike which would ruin the city even more if possible. Cops are dying on duty on a daily basis and not enough units are available for patrolling and keeping order, so basically situation is chaos.


Dick Jones (Ronny Cox), the old man’s right hand, presents a robot prototype called ED-209 as the solution to end with crime in the city, apparently all tests have proved to be succesful however when showing its abilities to OCP executives the machine fails to commands and kills one of them, something that ambitious Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) approaches to convince the old man that his RoboCop  project could be active in less time for less money and more effectiveness.



On the other hand, on a lower level, in a regular police station, Alex J. Murphy (Peter Weller) starts on duty with officer Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) as his partner. When tracking down a very dangeruous group of criminals led by Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) in to an old mill, Murphy is violently killed with Lewis witnessing the execution unable to protect her partner and no backup available to assist them.


Murphy’s remaining parts of his body, basically his face and head, are used for RoboCop project, becoming half man, half robot, with memories apparently erased, for serving and protecting the community, as RoboCop, the cop that can work 24/7, the perfect invincible and most efficient Police arm to eradicate crime in Detroit.

Lewis calibrating RoboCop's gun

Lewis calibrating RoboCop's gun

Everything will work fine until RoboCop starts remembering…and seeks for vengeance.


I commented already about Total Recall, which in fact was filmed 3 years after RoboCop. You can guess Verhoeven’s signature in both movies easily with several features in common, both full of violence, futuristic and both box-office hits.


RoboCop resists passing of time better than Total Recall except for ED-209 motion scenes which remind of the all Star Wars AT-AT’s and AT-ST’s movements. Well, looking for some information, Phil Tippet, the animation creator, was also involved in Star Wars in stop motion animation. What a coincidence, huh?


Regarding the subject I was mentioning at the beginning, violence in this movie is constant, plenty of blood, dramatic execution of Murphy’s, rape attempts, people shot…I don’t remember when I watched RoboCop for the first time, but I’m sure I wasn’t more than 13. Honestly, I didn’t remember so much violence, memories are very selective I guess, but reviewing the the movie yesterday I got very shocked. I don’t remember it to be rated, and it was the typical movie all kids were in love with. We were continuously watching violent movies and nothing happened to us. Nowadays adults try to protect their kids from watching violence on TV due to the apparent consequences it may cause, however news, which are unrated, show blood and violence constantly in a more shocking way, seems that the more you see the more you’re concerned, but nobody criticizes this, only movies and videogames.


A different question dealt in RoboCop is the good and bad thing in different aspects. For instance, when creating the Robocop from Murphy first is tried to approach one of his arms, however Morton decides to get rid of it, for once the cop has been officially declared deceased, they can do and manipulate the body in the way they want. Is it correct? Verhoeven lets the audience decide. What about the moment when cops are to execute RoboCop? Lewis and others try to stop the shooting for he/it is just another cop, he’s accomplished the tasks he was designed to, however, because they have been commanded to eliminate him, no reasoning is admitted. Is this right or wrong? The savior suddenly becomes an outlaw.


RoboCop is not just an action movie, there’s more meaning or message beyond that, and I find that very interesting. Definitely a good movie to see.


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