Day 94, No. 94. Robocop

Peter WellerHAIRCUT 100: Day 94, No. 94. Peter Weller as Alex Murphy, Robocop: part man, part machine, all cop. In a dystopian near-future that looks more like reality every day, a corporate oligarchy in which multinationals seek profit in de-unionised public services and effectively control local government, a cheap solution that will restore public confidence in inner-city policing is required. Omni Consumer Products, whose motto is that ‘Good business is where you find it,’ have brought a controlling interest in the newly privatised Detroit Police Force from a city on the brink of financial ruin, as part of a corporate vision that sees citizens of the future ‘Delta City’ buying shares rather than casting votes. Unfortunately, their latest product, the ED-209 Enforcement Droid, doesn’t actually work, paving the way for an ambitious young executive to fast track the back-up ‘Robocop’ programme, which is based on cybernetics rather than robotics. Likely candidates for conversion in the force are selected and put in harm’s way until the inevitable happens and an unwitting donor, Officer Alex Murphy, is killed and resurrected as the prototype Robocop. Programmed to ‘Serve the public trust,’ ‘Protect the innocent,’ and ‘Uphold the law,’ Murphy’s human personality gradually begins to reassert itself, according to the classic ‘Tin Man’ archetype in science fiction, which explores the concepts of Identity and Self, and what it actually means to be ‘human.’

Like The Terminator, Robocop is a landmark in industrial, cyberpunk cinema, from the era of the original Ghost in the Shell and video games like Syndicate Wars. It’s a bloody, kinetic revenge tragedy skillfully directed by Paul Verhoeven, who went on to make Total Recall and Starship Troopers, and is a lot more like 2000AD’s Judge Dredd than Stallone’s movie ever was. Back then, it was pure science fiction. Now, well… ‘Your move, creep.’

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