RoboCop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987)

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RoboCop, directed by Paul Verhoeven (1987).

Score: A classic in satire.

Twenty minutes into the future, Detroit City is overridden with crime and poverty. A massive corporation, OCP, has already purchased and is controlling several public services, such as hospitals and prisons, and their most recent acquisition is local law enforcement. They want to clean the city of crime and poor people in order to start a gentrification process and they will use any means necessary, including turning a deceased cop into an enforcing machine that doesn’t eat, sleep or go on strike like its human counterparts.

You can watch this film in two different lights, which are non-exclusive. You can watch it as a brainless action film where baddies of all kinds get their asses handed to them with copious amounts of explosions and gore, and you can watch it as a satire which points out one of the many ways that capitalism can go horribly wrong. RoboCop portrays a society run by corporations where social security is inexistent and social darwinism is rampant. While it does very well at pointing where the problem is, it doesn’t risk it suggesting where to find a solution, it just kicks the problem in the face and tells it to go fuck itself with as much badassery as possible. In this sense, the flavour and style are quite similar to Snow Crash, though Snow Crash didn’t like to point its finger around so much. Corporativism, insecurity, badassery, satire, mindless violence, yeah, they’re both pretty much on the same boat.

While it’s not a brilliant movie in the acting department, it has aged pretty well as far as special effects go. The toxic waste scene made absolutely no sense, but hey, people need something to laugh at. Troma would have been proud.

Well, it’s hard to be neutral when I like anything science-fiction related and I’m a fan of Verhoeven since I watched Basic Instinct when I was seventeen, but really, give it a go.

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