I don’t always have a good time seeing blockbusters. Often, there’s some plot hole, some inconsistency, some blatantly cheesy trope, and it always drives me crazy and overshadows any of the film’s fun moments. This was not the case with Robocop. Robocop was awesome. Sure, okay, there were a few cheesy parts, but this movie rocked. It tells the story of Alex Murphy, a cop who, following a nearly life-ending attack related to one of his murder cases, is transformed into a crime-fighting cyborg. Not only does the film have excitement—shootouts, intense battles, acts of war—but it also deals with real themes in real ways. It examines ideas such as the pros and cons of human-controlled law enforcement machinery (capabilities of understanding nuanced situations vs. delayed reaction time and interference from emotions), enslavement (Alex, the film’s protagonist, is saved from an attack on his life, but he saved on the condition that he become the world’s first Robocop), free will, the individual vs. society, and the role of the media in matters of national security.
As expensive as this movie was to make, director José Padilha succeeds in maintaining intimacy through a very personal central story of love and loss. Simultaneously, we experience the massive societal implications of a militaristic, mentally-altered cyborg as well as the familial implications for Alex’s wife and young son due to scientists and businessmen hijacking Alex’s mind and body for their own personal profits.
The performances are thrilling. Gary Oldman stands out, playing a scientist conflicted between pleasing his powerful associate and preserving his morality and integrity. Jay Baruchel (from This is the End) also makes an appearance as a marketing specialist, and he’s fun to watch.
There’s one moment in the film when Alex’s robotic body parts are stripped away, and we see all that’s left of his organic self: his brain, his face, his lungs, and a single hand. With harrowing images like this, Robocop makes an impression—one that you won’t soon forget.