Classic Review – Robocop (1987)

Robocop - post

Title – Robocop (1987)

Director – Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct)

Cast – Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Kurtwood Smith, Ronny Cox, Miguel Ferrer

Plot – Set in the dystopian future were crime rules and cops fight to keep the justice one man can change the face of law enforcement as we know it – injured beyond repair officer Alex Murphy (Weller) who thanks to modern science becomes the first ever Robocop, a part human/part robot law keeping weapon. 

“Old Detroit has a cancer. That cancer is crime”

Review by Eddie on 4/03/2014

The 1980’s were and are a treasure trove for action movie lovers who were blessed with an abundance of classic action tales ranging from Terminator, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard and countless other flicks that looked to take names and ask questions later. Dutch wild child Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 bout of robotic justice can sit proudly alongside those classic entries as a shamelessly fun and over the top piece of blood infused entertainment.

For some unbeknown reason I have in my many years of film watching never seen Peter Weller strut his stuff as Alex Murphy a man who becomes our titular Robocop (a fact made all the more shameful on my behalf considering I was holed up working in a video store for more than 5 years) but I am glad I have now rectified that problem. Robocop is a film filled with subtle smarts and ingenious ideas that were fantastically realised by Verhoeven with some ripping makeup design and typically brutal 1980’s action scenes littering the picture. There is an air of fun and playfulness throughout the picture that are all infrequent in today’s action films with Robocop not afraid to lighten the mood along with mixing in themes that are more meaningful and heartfelt, a mood that is heightened by a cast full of colourful and committed actors.

Peter Weller in the role he will always be remembered for is great as our hero Murphy, playing the man and machine with an always calm yet readily menacing presence. As he quips his way through the movie we are always on his side and that’s without the film bothering with much exposition at all. Other actors in the piece from Nancy Allen’s female cop Anne and Kurtwood Smith’s downright slimy Clarence J. Boddicker.  All make their characters there’s which fits in fantastically with Verhoeven’s at times ingenious direction.

When you watch Robocop today you really get the sense that even though it has now happened  a remake/reboot is entirely unnecessary with the original still standing up in today’s standards and still packing both a punch in the entertainment and social commentary stakes. If you’re thinking about going to see the new Robocop why not just watch the original instead? As they say the original is always the best.

4 steps out of 5

31 responses to “Classic Review – Robocop (1987)

  1. RoboCop is brilliant, and still packs a visceral punch. Weller is terribly underrated in the role – he delivers a fantastic monster performance, pitch perfect.

    • Also, I really miss Paul Verhoeven making Hollywood films. He brought a level of rare intelligence to blockbuster nonsense.

      • Spot on Rare! He really had a visual flair that he mixed with biting satire. Would love to see him back again for another dig at America.

      • I have a pretty good collection of Paul Verhoeven films: Turkish Delight, Katie Tippel, Soldier of Orange, Spetters, The Fourth Man, Flesh & Blood, RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Showgirls, Starship Troopers, Hollow Man, and Black Book. I actually rank Verhoeven as my favorite film director. If you haven’t check out The Fourth Man (subtitled) or Flesh & Blood (in English), you might want to give those a shot. Verhoven is now 75 years old, but I hope he gets to film his much delayed “The Winter Queen” sooner rather than later. I miss him, too. I’ve always thought that some of Verhoeven’s work was misunderstood or grossly underestimated. As far as RoboCop goes, I do consider it to be one of his masterpieces. The script has many memorable lines. One of my faves: “Can you fly, Bobby?”

      • That’s fantastic to hear about your love of Verhoeven mate! I have heard many of his early foreign films are really something and rank equally if not higher than his more Hollywood pictures. I will endeavour to track some of those ones you mentioned down 🙂

      • “Hollow Man” has always gotten a bad rap by reviewers. Personally, I think it’s a bit tame by Verhoeven’s standards, but it is nonetheless very well done. If you follow the film closely, the behavior of Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) is quite logical. As for “Showgirls,” that film, trashed by critics at the time of its release, has become a cult classic. Since when does the main protagonist of a film have to be likable? Her role, from the perspective of Joe Eszterhas and Paul Verhoeven, is to satirize the adult entertainment industry. You have to understand the concept of satire to fully grasp many of Verhoeven’s films. As for his Dutch films, my favorite is “The Fourth Man,” which is very much in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock.

      • Eddie, in the list of Verhoeven films in my earlier post, you’ll find Black Book. I have all of these films on DVD, and, yes, I’ve seen every one of them, and all of them more than once. It’s a very good film. If you like it, also check out Soldier of Orange. And, please, if you’re going to watch Verhoven films, don’t miss Flesh & Blood.

      • You’ve talked me into it! Will track down Flesh and Blood for sure, thanks for all the passion it’s great to hear of peoples thoughts towards directors and films like this.

  2. I haven’t seen the 1987 version yet, but I’ve recently seen the 2013 remake and I thought it was good. Have to see the original.

  3. By the way, “Basil” Poledouris scored RoboCop, Flesh + Blood, and Starship Troopers. He also scored many other well-known films for directors other than Paul Verhoeven. He was born in Kansas City, MO, the city where I grew up and spent much of my adulthood.

  4. RoboCop is amazing! I love the fact that while it is touching on serious themes that are quite relevant today, it also never takes itself too seriously. Great, great satire. My favorite character was actually Bob Morton.

    Weller makes Kinnaman look awful in the titular role. The new one could be a lot worse but it is simply average.

    • I am glad the new one has not been completely panned as I quite like that director. Your absolutely correct about the original Jackson it just fly’s between serious and satire perfectly.

  5. Absolutely love this film. Loved the over-the-top gore, the satire, the music, the message. No sequel or remake has matched it in terms of the above.

    • That’s what took me off guard mate was the whole over the topness of it but it all was so great! Especially the fact it didn’t shy away from being seriously bloody.

  6. One of my favourite sci-fi actioneers from the ’80s. Love it and the follow up (but of R3 we DO NOT SPEAK!!!). Haven’t seen the remake yet, as it bypassed the cinema I usually go to. Will probably check it out at least for curiosity value. (Odd coincidence – I just finished off a review for the new Neca ED-209 for a mate’s site earlier today).

    • Alright mate a Voldemort like code of silence on number 3 we promise! I think I will check out the remake once it arrives on Blu Ray I am just hoping for a decent popcorn munching time.

  7. Robocop is one of the best films of the 1980’s, and one of the best sci-fi satires of all time. It proves that mainstream popcorn entertainment, even of the action-movie variety, need not be incompatible with intelligence or genuine wit. Robocop is a juvenile movie in a lot of ways, but it’s a juvenile movie for adults. I’ll never forget the first time I saw it as a kid (in retrospect I was too young), how that opening scene with the ED-209 stunned me because it was funny and disturbing at the same time. The remake is inoffensive; that is its saving grace and also its downfall. But the cast is just as good as in the original, and the original had a fantastic cast. Miguel Ferrer rocks.

    • Mate some ripper thoughts right there I have to say total agreance on my end, this is the type of film blockbusters should be today. So glad to hear of your love for it!

  8. Robocop and to a lesser extent Total recall, really stands out as a time document with the cynicism and hopelessness of the general public. Both adding to the “One man can make difference”-genre but also inciting a air of there must be better things for humanity and our future.

    • Proggs so good of you to mention Total Recall that is a film I could watch any day of the week what an absolute blast! The 80’s sure knew how to do Sci-Fi and Action.

      • Total Recall and Robocop were genre-bending movies that appealed to action-movie fans, and also thinking people. Not that one person can’t be both! Total Recall is Arnold’s best film. It’s still amazing to see him in such a weird and ambitious movie (even if Verhoeven insists that the fade to white at the end signals Quaid getting a lobotomy).

      • I think it’s probably his most risky venture but I can’t think of it personally for me beating out the first 2 Terminator flicks 🙂 It certainly is a ripping yarn though and a true genre classic.

  9. Pingback: Classic Review Robocop (1987) - movieBlogs·

  10. Pingback: Film Review – Starship Troopers (1997) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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