Directed By: Paul Verhoven
Written By: Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner
The farther we go into the past the more interesting the movies about the future tend to be. They are interesting because they represent a clear idea of what people thought was coming in the future. Looking back it’s always fun to see how wrong they were and to contrast it with what did and didn’t actually happen. This movie never says specifically what year in the future it is but they had some very interesting things going on in their rendition of it. These future on goings include a presidential visit to a space station, nuclear war in South Africa between the Afrikaners and the South Africans, specially modeled mechanical hearts like the “sports heart”, and of course robot and cybernetic police officers. It’s so obvious they had little to no idea about the internet. Something that would literally change every facet of modern society. That has to make you think about the future in a different way. What crazy new development lies ahead of us now that none of us could ever imagine?
Not that they had everything completely wrong about the future in this film. At the very least they presented some very interesting ideas. The portrayal of the media is very interesting and the idea that a police force could be owned by a corporation is also interesting. Not that this has happened but the possibility in our ever changing now makes it something to think about.
Something I love most about this movie is the graphic violence. Even by today’s standards it’s incredibly violent but that’s so much about what makes the movie satisfying. It isn’t just violent, it’s excessively violent. From the dismembering gun shots to death by toxic waste this film went above and beyond to earn its R rating. It was worth it, it makes the movie so much better. Yeah, Robocop could have easily disabled the would be rapist and rescued the woman, but don’t we all relish in that scene where he gets more savaged with it? He doesn’t do the easy thing, he shoots between the victims legs to hit the criminal in the junk. When Clarence Boddicker takes a warning to the up and coming executive Bob Morton he could have simply punched Morton to knock him down and make him watch the video. Not in this savage film though, Boddicker dismisses the ladies with the classic line “bitches leave!” and then shoots Morton multiple times in the legs. The more than necessary shooting not only makes the bad guy a more ruthless villain but it makes this ultimately violent movie all that much better.
This movie is loaded with talent, and so many of the actors are exceptional that it’s hard to know where to begin. Best start with the bad guys because they own the show in this movie. Even though they are facing off against a really awesome robot cop. Kurtwood Smith turned in one of his finest roles ever as Clarence Boddicker. He is so vicious and provocative in this movie. He plays the part with a confidence that is impressive and he is so unpredictable as a villain. I spent so much time during my formative years watching Kurtwood Smith portray Red Foreman on That 70’s Show that it always blows my mind to see him in this movie. He is legendary as Clarence Boddicker even until the end as he is beating Robocop with a metal pipe. One of my favorite scenes is the aforementioned threatening of Bob Morton. He doesn’t even speak to Morton. He just shoots him up, pops in the video of Dick Jones, and moseys around before using his tongue to pull the pin out of the grenade that will bring the hotshot executive’s rise to an end. There is also that scene when he is arrested by Robocop and he spits blood onto the police desk at booking. Boddicker manages to be a one of a kind bad guy in this movie who is not simply ruthless and cutthroat but immature with a sexual streak that is surprising.
I am a huge fan of Ronny Cox playing the top dog villain. He has a very similar role in Verhoven’s other great 80’s sci-fi movie, Total Recall. In fact in that film he delivers one of my favorite lines of all time. His role in this movie was first and he was just warming up. He has such a professional look that makes him perfect for playing this type of executive part. He looks like the kind of guy you can trust, but he is as cutthroat and ruthless as the henchman in his employ. Having a villain like Clarence Boddicker under his thumb makes him even more of a badass. When Robocop comes to arrest him he is so cool as he casually approaches the situation. He planned ahead for the scenario and when the classified Primary Directive 4 takes effect he is ready. He has ED-209 waiting to beat up on Robocop while a battalion of cops are waiting in the parking lot to open fire on him. Dick Jones is a great bad guy because he’s a man with power, and he knows how to wield it to his advantage. A villain like him is as unpredictable as he is dangerous, is there anything more to love in a bad guy?
The strength of the bad guys in this movie only make the hero more thrilling and Robocop is an ultimate badass. This movie went against the grain when casting its hero not out of choice but out of need. In the era of Stallone–Schwarzenegger action films the role of Robocop was highly coveted but neither would get the opportunity. Schwarzenegger specifically wanted the part but couldn’t be cast because he was physically too large for the suit. A smaller man was needed and Peter Weller was tapped for arguably the biggest role of his career. Weller is an incredibly accomplished man having received his doctorate degree a few years ago. However, after appearing in over 70 features this movie remains the one he is most famous for. Weller’s star has been rising over the last ten years though as he has been featured more prominently in both film and TV. In his older age he is more often cast as a bad guy but that is a role he has thrived in.
I’ve let this draft sit a bit too long at this point so I will just wrap it up here. This is an exceptional movie that still holds weight almost 30 years later. Despite multiple sequels and a reboot this movie still stands head and shoulders above the rest. While it has a silly portrayal of the future; you simply cannot challenge the quality of the story or film. This isn’t a movie for the tender-hearted but if you have an appetite for action and violence then this is something you definitely need to see. This movie is easily worth your time and it can surprise you.
NEXT MOVIE: Robocop (2014)