Film Micrœview #82: Robocop (1987)

06.07.2014 § Leave a comment

Rating: Good.

This was a re-watching. I had been longing to re-experience this movie since the first time I saw it a long time ago. My vague feelings about enjoying it were beckoning — I was excited to find out whether an older, more filmicly mature myself would confirm or disconfirm the appreciation. I was thinking I would watch it with a specific friend but it didn’t work out so I gave up waiting and just went for it.

Robocop is taut and action-packed. 12 minutes in the first body is down, in that oh-so-violent conference room. This immediately leads into the scene in which Murphy dies, culminating at the 22 minute mark. Then there’s the stretch where Robocop gets situated, does his thing for a while obligatorily, and begins his process of self-discovery (Blake Snyder’s fun and games). At the hour mark an extended non-stop fifteen-minute-long action sequence begins where the creator of Robocop’s technology Bob meets his demise (assisted by indulgence in the vices which Dick uses Clarence to wield via crime over the citizens of Old Detroit), leading straight into Robocop crashing his killer Clarence’s coke lab, and then right into Robocop confronting Dick Jones and his ED-209, and getting turned on by the police force and saved by Officer Lewis. This could all be enough for a climax, but oh there’s more — we’re only to the Dark Night of the Soul. In Act III, Robocop camps out at his killer’s old hideout and confronts and defeats them there (killing Clarence with the same tool of his which reconnected him to his past Clarence cut him off from), then defeats the ED-209 once and for all using the weapon provided specifically for destroying himself, then offs Dick with an assist from the Old Man in the first room where violence occurred.

The character and plot threads are clever and well-executed on, and woven in well with each other and the themes. There’s the cops, the criminals, and the corporation. Presiding over the story is “The Old Man,” never named, and never questioned — all of Robocop’s drama occurs within the assumption of the Delta City project; the corporatocracy of Omni Consumer Products (anagram of “cop”) is a given. Murphy’s struggle to come to terms with himself as a man within a machine mirrors Robocop’s situation in regards to the machine of the system. When at the end Robocop says “they fix everything,” I do not believe this is a throw-away line. Robocop believes in his makers, in spite of the corruption and ridiculousness. He doesn’t strike. He’s on the Old Man’s side. Even as, in the final scene, Robocop gets sassy about how his directives prevent him from causing harm to OCP but is clearly indirectly achieving his mission against Dick, he believes it is right that he shouldn’t be able to harm OCP. We as the audience are left to ourselves to decide how to feel about his dedication to this system, his acceptance of the machine. He doesn’t pursue where his family went, despite the relationship of his son to his copdom.

Robocop is playful. I wish movies today could have a little more fun, not take themselves so seriously. The silly sounds and behavior of the stop-motion robots is definitely a value add here.

Basil Poledouris’s score is great. Also, did you know the song in the club they play is a collab between Ministry and Skinny Puppy??


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