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Saturday, September 13, 2014

ROBOCOP (1987)

Violent, hilarious, hilariously violent, the original ROBOCOP is just about everything you want in a Pop Action Classic. Paul Verhoeven helms with an easy, confident hand, skipping about from farcical newscasts to car chases without losing the basic narrative line . . . or leaving a glass surface intact. And what a nifty, thoughtful, beautifully structured little story it is. Fresh-faced cop is blown to bits on his maiden run, then retooled with indestructible machine parts as a Next Generation policing unit. But when the human part that’s still inside begins to remember his past, his family & the thugs who brutally murdered him, he switches into revenge mode. One superb set piece follows another, with Peter Weller’s Tin Man Police Officer augmenting a heavy hand of justice with unexpected glints of real emotion. Even better work comes from a supporting player, actually a rival Robotic Cop that’s all machine and 100% Stop-Motion anarchy. Few action pics from the ‘80s have aged this well. NOTE: The film was released at various lengths, but the excellent looking M-G-M DVD (at 143 minutes) appears to be the full Director’s Cut.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: You’d never guess at Verhoeven’s straitened career from this pitch-perfect outing. But SHOWGIRLS/‘95 all but done him in as a mainstream commercial director. Squibs on STARSHIP TROOPERS/’97 and BLACK BOOK/’06 to come.

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