RoboCop ★★★★★

No. 124:
Empire Magazines Greatest Challenge: 301 films, 301 words

There was a period before the 00s where Paul Verhoeven was one of Hollywood’s most significantly unique talents. His films doused explicit content upon the foundations of stories with strong social satire and critique, and even when he missed the mark it was always an engaging watch through the proficient standards of his filmmaking.

The reason Robocop has endured beyond the longevity of its title and premise is a very simple one; Robocop is smart. Sharp, satirical jibes are taken at the expense of mollifying pop culture, the horrors of practical neoliberalism, the dangers of the private sector and our over reliance on the defence industry and the ridged confidence in corporate mandates and heavy gentrification. It’s an extensive socio-political commentary unfolding against a climate of hyperactive violence, with lashings of black comedy thrown in for good measure. It’s a world that never takes itself too seriously, but doesn’t skimp on the emotional core of Alex Murphy’s (Weller) inner struggle – dealing with the nature of consciousness and identity while the broad strokes of good and evil blur even closer to our own reality.

For many people this won’t be the main allure. Thankfully, though, Robocop is also a rather amazing action film, and arguably one of the best films of the 80s as a whole. A blend of seamless practical effects of broad density and gooey physical prosthetics, with great stunt work and an enriched world of overdesign makes this a visually indestructible film. Its characters are all memorably embellished and portrayed with a well-built screenplay, while everything is beautifully shot by Verhoeven regular, Jost Vacano. Its classic brass meets industrial score is equally enduring.

Robocop might not be his biggest or most ambitions film, but it’s undoubtedly his best and a classic that will forever draw people to his work.

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