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RoboCop-The Director’s Cut


‘…a smart, prescient sci-fi movie that delivers a crowd-pleasing underdog story with considerable punch and genuine wit…’

Something of a blast for my teenage self to behold, Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop isn’t a text that requires too much explanation; it’s a smart, prescient sci-fi movie that delivers a crowd-pleasing underdog story with considerable punch and genuine wit. World-building has rarely been done so well as in Detroit/Delta City, where ‘the future has a silver lining’ under the mushroom cloud of nuclear war. Corporate fascism has taken over, with OCP (Omni Consumer Products) offering customers the illusion of having every choice, but as they ‘enter into a contract with the city’ to manage the police law enforcement forces, there’s nothing on their mind but tapping into the culture’s pervasive greed. ‘I’d buy that for a dollar’ smirks a tv comic’s catchphrase as he ogles women; the world is surely going to hell unless one man can set things right…

The ads that interrupt the narrative of Robocop are choice; ‘the ‘Star Wars orbiting peace platform’ that leaves the president floating in zero gravity, the ‘series seven sports heart’ that promises to keep unhealthy citizens alive in style. A report about the use of nuclear weapons in disputes about race in Johannesburg suggests both the absurdity and the escalation of cultural division that is cultivated and encouraged by the media powers that be. Into the midst of a city-wide police strike, new officer Murphy (Peter Weller) is brusquely told to ‘get your armour and suit up’ and partnered with Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen). ‘Police officers don’t strike’ they’re warned, but Murphy and Lewis are out-dated models anyway. OCP are bringing in a revolution in law enforcement in the form of ED-209, whose spectacularly bloody malfunctions are described as ‘just a glitch’ . ‘Who cares if it doesn’t work?…we pretty much do as we want to…’ is the OCP mantra; they’re only interested in the profits and not the result. When Murphy is gunned down on his first day in a new precinct, OCP wipe his memory and press him into service as Robocop, but Lewis somehow recognises the human being trapped within Robocop’s titanium laminated body armour.

‘Don’t you have a name? You really don’t remember me do you?’ asks Lewis, but Robocop/Murphy does remember; while OCP celebrate their coked-up Xmas, Murphy is haunted by memories of his wife and family, walking mechanically around his now deserted familial house while flashes of the past agonisingly assail him. The prospect of revenge delivers some ‘state of the art bang bang’ as Robocop gets back on track and faces off against rando street thugs, organised crime in the form of Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and his gang, ED-209 and eventually the OCP boardroom itself. Verhoeven’s roving camera captures it all, from the unisex changing facilities, the TJ Lazer cop-show reruns, the low-res definition of Robocop’s display, the clubs full of gurning upscale wannabes under the chemical cosh, the crooked politics featuring augmented prescience in 2023; ‘I want a recount’ one candidate snaps as he takes a hostage, while a board game lays bare how geo-political blackmail works for kids ‘That’s it, buster, no more military aid for you!’

‘There’s no better way to make money than free enterprise,’ is another OCP manta, but RoboCop the man and the movie ferociously tears into the cost of inhumanity to man, leaving executives peeing in their own pants and complaining ‘we can’t have our products turning against us.’ These days, we are the product that might turn against our oppressors, and the revolution starts here, with a rejection of control and repression by a single individual; it’s no wonder there’s an actual statue to Robocop in Detroit. The extreme violence of the director’s cut hammers home the point of Verhoeven’s rousing film, with a great score by Basil Poledouris as accompaniment; ‘They’ll fix you, they fix everything’ may be both a threat and a promise, but it’s not to late for viewers to start thinking about how to create a better world than the hellish one depicted here.



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  1. Michael Ironside wasn’t in this one…. Clarence Boddicker was played by Kurtwood Smith.
    I really liked this review, you captured the heart of the movie.
    I always thought the thing about Robocop was that he was un-corruptable, something that turned out to be unacceptable to corporations.
    Even when Robocop wins the day at the end, you could argue the only reason ‘the old man’ is grateful is because he’s had his own skin saved from one of the crocodiles in his house.

    • Thanks! Fixed that casting error, but I’m sure you’ll know how that mistake came about; Verhoeven is a master of the horrible boss villian! I banged out this review with much enthusiasm in 25 mins this morning, and really wanted to try and capture the feel of this unique film. And yes, Murphy doesn’t got on some indisciminate killing spree, he takes revenge on those who wronged him. He couldn’t kill the Old Man because of his OCP directives, but at least th old Man helps him by firing the dead wood in the boardroom and letting Murphy do his thing. Robocop is uncorruptable, and even if he doesn’t change the sick, cynical world of the film, he kicks backa ndf makes a stand. What a film; Verhoeven really puts the pedal to the metal with this one!

  2. One of Phil’s faves, he has the 3 movie box set but it’s the first we’ve watched a couple of times. He’s asking is this an anniversary edition and has it got extended and ditto Booky’s question?

  3. Yeah, one of those movies that actually gets better as it gets older. Meanwhile, can’t remember either of the sequels or the reboot today.

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