Top 20 favourite movies of all time (#14)
This movie grew on me a lot when I watch it; the revenge plot where the main character either dies or has something deeply tragic happen to them is an easy sell for a story, only if its done well of course.
I suppose I should dedicate this mostly to a commentary on the subject of vengeance and vigilante justice. From what I’ve viewed in terms of characters out to avenge something, whether it be themselves or someone else, they tend to become detached from their own humanity, as though seeking justice is something we humans do but very rarely go through with.
In the case of Robocop, the main character dies horribly in a rain of gunfire and is remade as a cyborg, completely devoid of his humanity and thus acts as a machine would. As the story progresses, however, you see the human side slowly return and he’s not as mechanical as he once was, memories of the people who had caused his death still linger in his mind and he pulls all the stops to find them and bring them to justice. If it weren’t for the three prime directives or Asimov’s laws of robotics when it comes to police work, he would have likely killed them (even though he does at the end), so one must ask the question: is vengeance justifiable as a human aspect or as a non-human aspect?
You look at your common superhero with a tragic backstory, and most of the time he or she is out to seek vengeance to right the wrongs committed to them. Yet because they possess superhuman qualities or enhanced abilities that they are still one way or another detached from what we generally consider to be human. Even Batman sadly follows under this category, despite him not gifted with superhuman qualities. That he must don the cape and cowl and fight crime as a costumed vigilante while as Bruce Wayne he’s typically normal and more human in his interactions with other people. Is putting himself above the law to fight crime something we as humans could never bring ourselves to do, and if so, does that mean we become less human?
I think generally with the subject of vengeance, Robocop works on that level. It’s also with a grain of humility that we have to look at society from a media’s perspective with the fake news and commercials they throw at you, going over the top with how batshit crazy we can be when selling products.
The acting is very solid and even with the premise of a cyborg police officer fighting crime and avenging the loss of his previous life, there’s a lot of good performances from a lot of the characters and however brief they are, you get a sense of who they are and where they stand in the overall plot. Kurtwood Smith and Ronnie Cox play the villain roles with such simplicity that you couldn’t bring yourself to believe that they could pull off good-guy roles, relishing in the evil character archetype.
As much as we’d like to think Peter Weller has a career outside of this movie, most of us will always remember him as Robocop, the make-up effects of his cybernetic suit really sell that he’s what you see him as, and his mannerisms are very robot-like.
And then there’s swiss-cheese boardroom guy, lol.