RoboCop (1987)
March 16, 2016 7:45 PM - Subscribe

In a dystopic and crime-ridden Detroit, a terminally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories.

Roger Ebert: But this is not a standard thriller. The director is Paul Verhoeven, the gifted Dutch filmmaker whose earlier credits include "Soldier of Orange" and "The Fourth Man." His movies are not easily categorized. There is comedy in this movie, even slapstick comedy. There is romance. There is a certain amount of philosophy, centering on the question, What is a man? And there is pointed social satire, too, as the robocop takes on some of the attributes and some of the popular following of a Bernhard Goetz.

NYTimes: So we have here a variation on the part-man-part-monster genre, except that this monster is programmed to enforce the law; he knows when and where a crime is being committed and can see through walls. The glitch is he's also been programmed not to go after the security-company biggies.

Robocop is an almost perfectly symmetrical film

Robocop 1987 vs Robocop 2014

Some other movie, also called Robocop, previously on FanFare


Dick, you're fired

You are under arrest

I'd buy that for a dollar
posted by MoonOrb (27 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Guns, guns, guns!

...That may or may not have come to mind several times during this season of Agent Carter
posted by tomboko at 11:07 PM on March 16, 2016

I rewatched this a few months back for the first time since Freddy Mercury died, and, man, it holds up (ED SFX aside, mostly), and is the best of the movies. They got progressively worse, until whatever 2014 was (which was more 'inspired by' than remake).

Plus, coming to find Red Foreman as the bad guy was a lot of cognitive dissonance.
posted by Mezentian at 6:26 AM on March 17, 2016

Plus, coming to find Red Foreman as the bad guy was a lot of cognitive dissonance.

He's the best! He's not musclebound, he's not tall, he's not possessed of a gravely voice. He's a schlubby, balding dude in glasses, and he's absolutely goddamned terrifying, and that's great.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:27 AM on March 17, 2016 [11 favorites]

He's perfect. It's like if someone cast your dad to play Michael Ironside.
posted by maxsparber at 8:28 AM on March 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

God damn, I miss Verhoeven movies.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:28 AM on March 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

Also, Emil Antonowsky melting. That's a good shibboleth for identifying people of your generation.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:33 AM on March 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

Plus, coming to find Red Foreman as the bad guy was a lot of cognitive dissonance.

I'm always fascinated by this detail that in the future street gangs will be made up of middle-aged men like Ray Wise and Kurtwood Smith.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 8:49 AM on March 17, 2016 [8 favorites]

I saw the beginning on HBO a few nights ago and noticed that it was a coed changing room in the scene when everyone is changing into uniforms and griping about OCP and how crazy things were in Detroit. It reminded me of Paul Verhoeven's film Starship Troopers, which had a similar coed shower scene where men and women are just matter-of-fact naked around each other. Makes me think it's a Thing with him.
posted by Green With You at 8:52 AM on March 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh man. I re-watched Robocop maybe three or four years ago when I came home way too drunk to go to bed. I think I jibberjabbered throughout the entire thing about what a work of absolute genius it is. It's one of those movies that people underestimate because Robocop 2 happened (and, frankly, because it's a 1980s sci-fi / action movie), but is really an amazing piece of work in so many ways.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:54 AM on March 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I only ever saw the TV version until I got the Criterion DVD back in the day, and I was completely unprepared for the graphic violence. The TV version left the misogyny untouched, though, and that smacked me in the face just as much as Murphy's hand being amputated by shotgun.

The aspect of the satire that I find the funniest/saddest now is that the future that Robocop predicted was a shit-ton less racist than the future we got. Look at Boddicker's multi-racial crew and compare it to the gangs in Sons of Anarchy. Look at Mr. Johnson (no first name given), a top exec at the headquarters of an amoral global corporation, and see how many real-world analogs there are.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:22 AM on March 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

He shoots a couple of would-be rapists and calls a rape crisis center for their intended victim.

Robocop: better at handling rape than actual cops.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:34 PM on March 17, 2016 [13 favorites]

"Dick, you're fired!" is one of the great twists.
posted by rhizome at 2:59 PM on March 17, 2016

This was the era of Hellraiser and Re-Animator, the shotgun-to-the-hand plugged right into my 18yo brain. Everything (except "Black Book") Verhoeven has made in English has been such a satire of American society it took years to put him in Director's Jail.
posted by rhizome at 3:04 PM on March 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, Emil Antonowsky melting. That's a good shibboleth for identifying people of your generation.

The melty man. It's the way he splatters all over the windshield that was the ultra-traumatizing moment. Such a great movie. I think it's the fact that it's got so many levels that makes it impossible to replicate in sequels or remakes. It was a political satire + action movie + tragedy/Christ story, and every follow-up failed at one or more of those elements, and unless you have all of them going you end up with a middling version of one type of genre movie instead.

Back in the 80's, I spent a summer as an exchange student in Argentina, and at a party someone had the Robocop VHS playing. I was laughing at one of the jokes in the fake newscast/commercial segments, and I was helpless to try to translate why it was so funny. Partly my Spanish wasn't that terrific, but mostly it was just that it was such a perfect satire of Reagan-era America, and trying to explain that was beyond me - the gallows humor of laughing at a joke about a nuclear annihilation board game while at the same time having grown up with the idea of a global nuclear WWII always looming on the horizon. I don't have any memory of which part of the movie I was laughing at, I just remember the blank/confused look on the other people's faces and my realization that there was just no way for me to explain why the movie was funny.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:52 PM on March 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

My best friend recommended Robocop while it was still in theatres, warning me that it was extremely violent but worth it for the satire. He was right.

We didn't need the statue here though, especially since they didn't shoot a single frame of the film here.
posted by pmurray63 at 7:16 PM on March 17, 2016

The most chilling thing about when Murphy finds Lewis at the end is when he says "They'll fix you," and the scene lingers for a bit before cutting away. In the symmetry article listed above, there's a note about a deleted scene where a recovering Lewis repeats Dick Jones's line about kitchens and heat. If they'd left that scene in, the film would be a real crowd-pleaser. But they cut it out and turned the film into something that stands the test of time.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:55 PM on March 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

The whole transformation sequence where we see everything through Murphy's eyes while everyone talks as if he's not there--the trauma team bitching about wasting their time, the scientists casually talking about taking his arm off and wiping his memory--my god. That's gotta be high on the list for most chilling/terrifying sequence in any film ever. Like Brazil, this movie is brutal because sometimes it pushes the already-pretty-dark comedy/satire straight into totally serious, naked despair.
posted by equalpants at 9:11 PM on March 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

When he woke up, and it was a screen display? That eventual reveal was so great the first time. Unless there's an oral hist...oh look:

Robocop: The Oral History

I'll be in my bunk
posted by rhizome at 12:01 AM on March 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's interesting to hear people talk about the dissonance of seeing "Red Foreman" as the bad guy. Having seen this in theaters I always thought it was weird to see a murdering psycho as a sitcom dad (though let's face it, they all seem like they really are repressed murdering psychos waiting to snap). Same for mister are you smarter than a bullet, college boy who'd go on to a prominent spot on ER, though that character was about equally awful.

Anyone interested in seeing & talking about the four direct to tv Robocop movies? Netflix has them (on DVD) and the mentions I have seen of them are pretty positive.
posted by phearlez at 12:15 PM on March 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

He shoots a couple of would-be rapists and calls a rape crisis center for their intended victim.
Not just shoots, but shoots in the genitals.
posted by fullerine at 2:31 PM on March 18, 2016

"Can you fly, Bobby?"
posted by hoodrich at 5:13 PM on March 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Another neat factoid about this movie I remember from way back is that the police cars are the then brand-new (and genuinely freaky-looking for the time) Ford Taurus. I think this movie may have been the first time I saw one.
posted by rhizome at 11:48 PM on March 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Not just shoots, but shoots in the genitals.

Perfectly, over-the-top parodied here [cw: attempted rape, fake penises] in a way that I can't help but thinking that Verhoeven would approve of.
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 4:07 AM on March 3, 2018

It's back on Prime Video in the US again, in case anyone else needs their fix and no longer has their physical media. It's the uncut extra gore version, even. The extra compression compared to the Blu-Ray may help some of the ED-209 scenes out a bit unless you're a dork like me who actually enjoys seeing how the sausage is made.

Sometimes I think I'm missing part of the fun because I first saw RoboCop when I was six years old when it released on VHS. I see the satire even though it has become more of a documentary as the years wear on, but the violence and gore just isn't remarkable. I must have been a real weird kid for Emil's end to never have bothered me. I just wondered what the hell kind of toxic stew could do that to a body.
posted by wierdo at 11:25 PM on January 15, 2021

DOT, Jr.: I kinda feel like this movie is supposed to be about how either cops and capitalism are great or about how cops and capitalism are trash... and since you showed it to me ...
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:48 PM on April 8, 2022

In case anyone isn't aware, RoboDoc finally got a Blu-Ray release a couple of months back. I highly recommend it It's a love letter to the film, and if that doesn't do it for you, there's all kinds of alternate takes and neat stuff about how the SFX were done. So primitive compared to even a couple of years later, yet holds up so well! Also some bone chilling stories about the...lax attitude towards safety in some of the stunt and effects work.

Robo wants an Oreo.
posted by wierdo at 3:27 AM on January 16

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