A ripping allegory of the dangers of privatizing law enforcement gets turned into a trashy generic shot-in-Vancouver action flick.
The same week Detroit declared bankruptcy I watched for the first time Paul Verhoeven’s dystopian sci-fi action flick RoboCop.
Aside from his brilliant satirical take on Robert Heinlein’s treatise for a militaristic society Starship Troopers, I haven’t seen much of Verhoeven’s work. But RoboCop had all the elements that made Starship Troopers great: ridiculous gratuitous violence, over-the-top villains, campy dialogue and plot structure, as well as a ripping satire of the day’s zeitgeist. Starship Troopers lampooned Heinlein’s military hero worship, jingoism, and media hyperbole; RoboCop, while less comical, ridiculed the idea that the public sector’s failings could be found in the private sector. Starship Troopers captured the West’s sense of invincibility in the late-90s era of no fly zones, air wars, and contained conflict, while RoboCop said that while (bad) government might be the problem of the crime wave of the 80s, putting the issue to a profit-seeking entity isn’t the solution.
In the 2014 version of RoboCop, these satirical overtures are tossed out the window in favor of generic shoot-em-up fare at a PG-13 level. Press materials say that 2014’s RoboCop takes place in Detroit of 2028, yet Vancouver’s skyline and a few streets are easily recognizable (interestingly it looks like they’ve used footage from the 2011 Stanley Cup riot in one shot). When this RoboCop reboot comes out in February, fans of the original are sure to be disappointed.