NEVER SEEN IT: RoboCop (1987)


Date released: July 17, 1987

Date watched: February 14, 2014

Why now?: The reboot stars one of my favourite underrated television actors, The Killings’ Joel Kinnamen, and as I was going to see it the next day, I felt I needed to view the original, which is on many best lists (thriller, action film, films of 1987). It was also a fitting way to spend Valentine’s Day with my hubby. (We’re weird people; our first date was Red Dragon.)

Why not then?: I was too young when it came out, and it wouldn’t have been my taste at that age. Not until I watched Blade Runner and Die Hard years later did I acquire a taste for sci-fi and action films. As my husband is a fan (it was his first R-rated movie), I’d tried to watch it before, but because of its hyper-violence, we would wait until the kids were in bed. That means I fell asleep before the opening credits rolled.


  • Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) being shot to bits by baddies pre-RoboCop.
  • Frequent use of the F-bomb.
  • Over-the-top gore and violence.
  • Deadpan delivery of classic lines such as “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”

What I actually got:

  • A reminder of how violent 80s films (particularly those by director Paul Verhoeven) were as Alex Murphy is LITERALLY shot to bits by baddies. The splatter alone probably got that R rating.
  • Kurtwood Smith, the dad from That ’70s Show, as a live-wire thug with connections. Ray Wise (Twin Peaks) also turns up in a small role.
  • A female cop, Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen), who is the only one smart enough to figure out who RoboCop really is behind the visor. Bonus points for not making her a love interest.
  • Social satire and more complex themes than expected for a movie about a cyborg cop. The film explores authoritarianism, privatization of military and police, corruption, technological limits and what defines humanity.
  • Peter Weller’s good performance despite playing a robot with no memory of being human, who is obscured under a shield for half the film.
  • Toxic waste + bad guy x 1980s special effects = Nasty pile of gross-out goo.

One night-in stand or second date potential?: RoboCop deserves a revisit as I feel like there are some subtleties I may have missed the first time.


amberAmber Kelly-Anderson is a Texas-based writer and literature professor harbouring a long-standing infatuation with film. Her lifelong missions are to Save Ferris and voice a Pixar character.

Read more of Amber’s posts.


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