Like many kids in the 80s generation, this film was my introduction to one of the coolest genre specialists working in movies: Paul Verhoeven. When I watched Robocop for the first time I knew it had something different going on. From the characters, to the setting to the humor, it broke away from the usual action films we were getting at the time and really did its own thing.
Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is an All American, true blue officer on the inner city Detroit police force. He loves his job and does it the best he can. His young son happens to be a big fan of a TV show called T.J. Laser (a spin on T.J. Hooker which was popular at the time) about a hero policeman who twirls his gun in an iconic western style and Murphy uses him as an inspiration in his own work.
At the cities biggest business corporation OCP, the executives are planning on creating an entirely new downtown Detroit, rebuilding/revitalizing and retitling it Delta City, and part of their program will include a new kind of law enforcement. They want to have the first robotic police department and are working on designing them. Their latest model is a huge imposing machine called the ED-209 whose conceptualized by OCP Vice President Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) the head of operations. Jones who thinks he is breaking ground with this invention ends up becoming a laughing stock when ED-209 guns down an innocent bystander during a demonstration leaving the President (Dan O’Herlihy) everyone refers to as “The Old Man” and the OCP board members in shock.
Meanwhile, out on the beat, Murphy and his partner Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) begin chasing a sadistic criminal Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith), and trail him and his gang of cutthroats to a steel factory on the outskirts of town. After confronting the gang, Murphy is violently attacked and shot so many times he is basically mutilated.
OCP Executive Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) who is competing against Jones for a contract sees his chance to create a robotic police officer that will work correctly. In this case he uses Murphy and his still functioning brain turning him into a cyborg. He now has all the functions of a superior robot but with part of his human side retained.
Murphy is ultimately transformed into the unstoppable Robocop and fights the scumbags in the city using high-tech cerebral programming combined with a bulletproof robotic body.
Verhoeven’s stylish direction, his use of pitch black humor and personal spin on the 80s Hollywood action/cop genres was very unique for its time. Mixing sci-fi and urban crime made for a very intriguing concept. Robocop took The Terminator and mixed it with Dirty Harry.
FURIOUS FILM GEEK TRIVIA:
– Look for the origins of Verhoeven’s trademark onscreen commercials and coed locker rooms that would show up in another one of his sci-fi hits: Starship Troopers (“Want to Know More?”).
This weeks furious poster by Olly Moss is a super cool, modern mimimalist design that was used as promotion for the Alamo Drafthouse’s Rolling Roadshow, a cross country tour that screens movies at the various areas they were filmed.