RoboCop ★★★★½

The beginning of a series of Paul Verhoeven directed Hollywood sci-fi thrillers. His bizarrely disturbing style nicely mixes visually impressive action sequences - Craig Davies' stop-motion animation with the ED-209 is aged, but still delightful - with smart satire. Set in a dystopian version of Detroit, Michigan where crime has spiraled out of control leading mega-corporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP) to buy out of the police force. And when straightedged police officer Alex Murphy is brutally murdered by a sadistic crime boss, OCP uses his body to create a super cop to permanently eliminate crime.

Peter Weller is decked out in robotic armor almost the entire time, yet he brings heart to his title role. Tenderly examining the human nature deep within RoboCop, designed merely as a product to serve the public. Then there is Kurtwood Smith as villainous, cursing-up-a-storm crime boss, Clarence Boddicker.

Verhoeven's commentary on American society isn't the most dedicated or insightful, but it has plenty of intelligence, something almost all other action driven films lack. From the comically dramatic and illogical news reports of civil war and revolutionary activity to the OCP's endless supply of corruption. Notwithstanding the underlying serious aspects, above all this is one of the most purely entertaining films to come out of the 80s. Ultra-gory, explosions aplenty, and full of clever dialogue to go with its complex setting. One of the best visionary action movies. Verhoeven is a master at smart, violent, visually stunning thrillers, and he's steady at his peak here.