Paul Verhoeven directed this sci-fi adventure movie. Strangely he made it to be a satire of the violence of law enforcement during the Reagan administration but audiences liked its anti-crime message.
(Spoiler Alert – Skip down to last paragraph to avoid spoilers and read recommendation)
RoboCop opens up on a police precinct in Detroit (Metro-West). It’s some kind of futuristic present (1980s) where the dystopian crime-ridden Detroit is being addressed with the introduction of robotic police. The first prototype is being demonstrated at an executive board meeting of OCP, a technology company that surprisingly also has links to the underworld. Unfortunately, the robot gets a glitch in his programming and kills one of the officers of the company during a demonstration. This reflects poorly on Dick Jones, the senior vice president and also secretly, the contact for the underworld figures involved with OCP. The failure of the prototype allows Jones’s competitor, Bob Morton to steer the company toward a different robot cop concept. Morton’s version is a man whose brain has been destroyed in an accident and whose body can then be retrofitted with robotic limbs and an electronic brain.
Enter Alex Murphy a young cop with a wife and young son. He’s just been transferred to Metro-West where he’s paired with street smart woman cop Anne Lewis who, of course, has a heart of gold. They head out to do good and get involved with a criminal gang headed up by Clarence Boddicker (played by Kurtwood Smith, who played Topher Grace’s father, Red on “That Seventies Show”). Boddicker is Dick Jones’s criminal partner. He’s also a sadistic maniac. When his gang captures Murphy, Boddicker personally mutilates him by blowing his limbs off with a shotgun. Then his men finish him off with their guns. Lewis escapes and goes for help.
In the next scene Murphy’s body has been converted into a cyborg that has been named RoboCop and assigned to Metro-West. He has four prime directives
- Serve the public trust
- Protect the innocent
- Uphold the law
- Never arrest an officer of OCP
Of course, the last directive is a secret one built in by OCP to allow them to break the law with impunity.
Now RoboCop begins to discover the link between Boddicker’s gang and the murder of Officer Murphy. Although RoboCop is not supposed to have any memory of his former life it does start to creep into his consciousness. During this time, he captures several of the gang members and discovers the link between OCP and Boddicker. At this point in the story Dick Jones has Boddicker murder Bob Morton.
Finally, RoboCop manages to arrest Boddicker and his gang but Jones has them released. Identifying Jones as the OCP link to Boddicker, RoboCop attempts to arrest him but discovers prime directive four prevents him. Now RoboCop is attacked by the OCP SWAT Team and escapes after being damaged. Officer Lewis hides him in a factory where she assists him in repairing himself.
The final showdown against Boddicker’s gang includes the use of rocket powered grenades that OCP has provided to Boddicker. After a drawn-out battle RoboCop kills the whole gang. Boddicker offers to surrender but RoboCop tells him “I’m not here to arrest you.” And so, he kills Boddicker in cold blood. Apparently, his restored memories have superseded some of his programming.
Finally, RoboCop shows up at the OCP board room to expose Dick Jones as a criminal. When Jones takes the Chairman of the Board hostage RoboCop reveals to him that he cannot arrest any OCP executive. The Chairman says, “Jones you’re fired.” And RoboCop immediately dispatches Jones with a full clip of bullets that drive him through the window of the skyscraper penthouse to his death on the pavement below.
RoboCop is a cartoon of a movie. The villains are cartoon characters. The hero is a robot almost completely devoid of personality. Even the good guys are cartoon sketches of cop movie stereotypes. The violence and weaponry are both over the top. It’s definitely a 1980s action movie. But within its genre and its intent it’s an enjoyable cartoon. Everyone is waiting for RoboCop to finally kill off the sadistic psychopaths that murdered his alter ego who once was a husband and father. I recommend this movie to fans of the genre. If you liked some of Schwarzenegger’s movies from that era, like Predator and Terminator you’ll probably like this movie too. If not then maybe not so much.