Alex Murphy is a committed cop and family man. He works hard to keep the streets of Detroit safe, until his life is brutally cut short when he is tortured and murdered by crime lord Clarence Boddicker (played by the legendary Kurtwood Smith).
Omni Consumer Products, a shady corporate entity taking an increasing role in the city’s law enforcement, then steps in, and Murphy is soon reborn as RoboCop – a cyborg with no memory of his human past, programmed only to follow the three ‘Prime Directives’: serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law.
Verhoeven’s unashamed use of graphic, almost comical violence in RoboCop has been both critiqued and lauded over the years, and it creates a vividly lurid vision of a city on the verge of collapse.
But the film’s themes – the vagaries of corporate power, the privatisation of the public sector, communities being forced out to make way for large scale gentrification, our relationship with symbols of authority – reveal RoboCop to be a wickedly prescient forbear of things to come, contemplating the question of what it means to be human while pushing the boundaries of good taste to their limits.
This film is screening at Tyneside Cinema as FLESH + BLOOD: THE CINEMA OF PAUL VERHOEVEN which you can learn more about here!