RoboCop ★★★★★

Alex Murphy, a Detroit police officer played by Peter Weller (Of Unknown Origin, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension), has a somewhat less-than-stellar day on the job when he is tortured and gunned down in an abandoned steel mill by a gang of criminals. Murphy, who is officially declared dead, is secretly selected as a candidate for an experimental RoboCop program by Omni Consumer Products (OCP), a ruthless corporation that replaces most of his body with cybernetic parts. As RoboCop proceeds to rid the city of evildoers, the program is touted as a rousing success. Inside the hulking metal machine, however, Murphy's memories of his past self resurface. With the help of his old partner, played by Nancy Allen (Dressed to Kill, Blow Out), he is driven to seek revenge on the gang that “murdered” him while also bringing the nefarious Vice President of OCP to justice.

Director Paul Verhoeven, who witnessed the horrors of World War II during his childhood in the Netherlands, has helmed a number of gleefully violent, politically-themed, and sometimes outright misanthropic films, namely Flesh + Blood (1985), Total Recall (1990), Basic Instinct (1992), Showgirls (1995), Starship Troopers (1997), and Hollow Man (2000). Verhoeven's 1987 masterpiece, RoboCop, marks the point where all of his unique tendencies come together, and where the bloodshed and cynicism are balanced by offbeat humor. An unforgettable early scene, where a prototype robot malfunctions and guns down an OCP executive in a skyscraper conference room, is so wonderfully over-the-top that it elicits belly laughs even when viewers are flinching and trying to cover their eyes. Near-future television commercials and show snippets (“I'd buy that for a dollar!”) add a casually dismissive tone to the setup, while the notion of a multi-million dollar corporation taking control of a city police force seems increasingly plausible in our day and age.

There are two kinds of people in this world, those who push the rewind button and watch the toxic waste vehicle hit-and-run scene twice while revisiting this movie, and those who lie and say that they don't.

RoboCop marks one of the finest roles of the late great Miguel Ferrer, who also starred in Twin Peaks, Traffic, and DeepStar Six.

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