Sunday, 3 January 2010

Let me make something clear to you. He doesn't have a name. He has a program. He's product

No 404 - Robocop
Director - Paul Verhoeven

Staying in the police genre we can still move to this, the polar opposite to The Usual Suspects. From the very first scene (hell the first 30seconds) you can see that Robocop has not aged well. The from the tone to the visuals, the dialogue through to the fashion. This film is so rooted in the 80s. It could not be any more 80s if it tried.
Luckily, Robocop is also ridiculous. Completely stupid, in a Highlander kind of way and very enjoyable... so you allow the rubbishness, as it kind of adds to the enjoyable stupidity

The film is set in a ridiculously violent world. Where the average purse snatcher will blow your head off with a shotgun BEFORE robbing you. It is a world where the police are allowed to machine gun you to death as part of being 'authorised to use force'.
It is also a world where one VERY corrupt organisation is able to control everything - from the military to pharmaceuticals to everything.

But please, don't let the politics bog you down too much... this is, after all, a Verhoeven film. So, as we're introduced to Murphy, the newest recruit to the Detroit Police, we get a typical walk through the co-ed showers.... allowing for some typically Verhoeven nudity. Murphy then lasts less than one mission before he is shotgunned into multiple bloody pieces. After all, why work on characterisation when we can have messy ridiculous violence? Whilst that may sound like criticism, in the context of THIS universe, it really works.
Left as only a bloody carcass... Murphy's partner (the really quite sweet Officer LEwis, played by Nancy Allen) drags him to hospital where he dies and is snatched up by the dubious mega company for part of their Robocop program.

And so we get Robocop. The big clunking monotone ultra-police man. He packs some serious firepower and he has some pretty damned awesome skills when it comes to being unstoppable. He goes and stops some crimes, after all, that is what he has been programmed with (his 3 objectives and mysterious 4th - if you want a 4th objective that Robocop can't see, just program it so HE CAN'T SEE IT.... not so that it flashes 'confidential' over his point of view.). However he falls across the gang which killed him. A gang which is led by Red from That 70's show and includes The Devil from Reaper as well as a cliche jive talking sassy black man and some other people. A pretty good 80's gang all things considered.
This gives him flashbacks and painful memories and he goes out to get his revenge and kill the gang.

Most of the film is therefore a very slow chase (Robocop is persistent, but he aint the fastest bugger) with an AWFUL LOT of bullets being fired everywhere. Like seriously, everywhere! It seems that the bad guys don't realise that Robocop is pretty much (though not entirely) bullet proof. They just keep trying to shoot him and he just keeps going up to them and killing them.
I particularly like the death bu HUGE vat of toxic waste, which mutates a baddie who then explodes into a gooey mess when hit by a car... a lot of fun.
The story builds up with more ludicrous nonsense allowing us to have a fight between Robocop and the real impressive feat of tech in this film.... the ED-209. The robotic police alternative to Robocop is a pretty badass piece of kit and an AMAZING piece of stop motion animation (I do love a good piece of stop motion). However it was not designed to go down stairs. Maybe Old Detroit is perfectly flat, we'll never know......

So yes, whilst the film toys with the ideas of identity and self, it never tries to get very deep. What we have his is gratuitous violence, explosions and blood - and it makes for a very fun, horrifically violent romp.

And sometimes a romp is just what you need

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