Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, and Miguel Ferrer

Machines are synonymous with science fiction movies.  Where would John Connor be without The Terminator?  What would the Star Wars saga be like without our beloved droids C-3PO and R2-D2?  Who would send chills down our spines in Alien if not the slippery android Ash?  I could go on and on.  This is just a small slice of the role machines play in sci-fi.  Despite this proliferation of machines on the big screen, there's still a certain apprehension to some applications of technology.  Everybody loves their iPhone, but we all don't embrace the vacuum robots circling the carpets of our tech-savvy friends with open arms.  Humans are naturally averse to change.  There's a clear contrast between art and life when it comes to machines, particularly when we're talking about the latest and greatest technologies.  In my humble opinion, the film that is most emblematic of this contrast is Paul Verhoeven's futuristic sci-fi thriller RoboCop.

Old Detroit is plagued with crime.  On the brink of financial ruin as well, the city strikes a deal with corporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP) to privatize its police force.  In exchange, OCP is allowed to tear down a portion of Detroit and build a utopia-like "Delta City", a mini-city to be governed completely by the corporation.  Already underfunded and under fire, the police force has obviously gotten the short end of the stick.  In fact, they're planning to go on strike.  Consequently, OCP senior president Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) is leading an initiative to develop ED-209 enforcement droids to replace the cops.  When that prototype droid kills a board member, the OCP CEO (Dan O'Herlihy) opts to back the cyborg design "RoboCop" proposed by younger executive Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer).  This naturally causes some tension within the office.

The idea behind RoboCop is to give OCP's technology a conscience with human judgment.  Morton believes this will sell well to the people of Detroit rather than just a robot with guns.  With this in mind, Morton has decided to select the next cop who dies at the hands of Detroit's criminals as the candidate for the RoboCop prototype.  In theory, a cop has a mind and body perfectly suited for the job already.  The unlucky candidate happens to be Alex Murphy (Peter Weller).  Having recently moved to the precinct, he quickly establishes himself as a loyal, committed officer of the law.  This doesn't work out terribly well for him when he and his partner Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) go after notorious crook Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith).  Murphy is brutally murdered in the line of duty, and RoboCop is born.  Now, OCP can clean up the city their way and perfectly position their brand for the launch of Delta City.  RoboCop has been programmed with a series of four directives that align with their objectives.  In theory, he should absolutely adhere to these directives.

Paul Verhoeven and his cast have one prime directive throughout RoboCop.  Entertain the audience above all else.  Well, they certainly got the job done because that's exactly what they do throughout the movie.  RoboCop is a thrilling, action-packed piece of blockbuster cinema that oozes with a certain edge.  With slick direction from Verhoeven, we have a brutal, corrupt vision of Detroit that is eerily ahead of its time.  With one badass yet noble RoboCop portrayed by Peter Weller and some menacing villains portrayed by both Ronny Cox and Kurtwood Smith, we've got an impeccable cast.  We've even got some great action sequences with robot death matches galore.  RoboCop is just one good movie.

One thing that makes RoboCop really stand out is that the cast is primarily comprised of character actors.  There's no big name movie star leading the pack.  One might be able to make a case for Nancy Allen, who will forever be remembered as Chris Hargensen in Carrie as well as her other collaborations with then-husband Brian De Palma.  She's the best RoboCop offers in terms of star power, and that's not saying much.  This is notable because it goes against one of the most basic norms of blockbuster filmmaking that big movies need big stars.  Even doing so, RoboCop was a smash success back in its time and still stands today as an iconic picture in the sci-fi genre.  You don't always need a big star to be a big success both critically and commercially.  This film is a testament to it.

I've got nothing but love for RoboCop.  It's undeniably a product of the 80s with the bombastic music and a slow-walking RoboCop who can somehow catch any baddie.  Nonetheless, it's a fun romp.  While I, like most, would prefer humans to serve as officers of the law rather than machines, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy art where just the opposite is happening.  This sci-fi classic gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.