Da da da da da da dadada.........This is 'Think McFly Think', give us five minutes and we'll give you the world (God, I love that opening).
This week on ‘memo to the executives’ I’ve decided to take a crack at a currently dormant franchise that has been promised a rebirth in the form of Darren Aronofsky’s remake but has recently left us all wondering if we will ever see Robocop on the big screen again.
I want to preface this article by saying that I would be perfectly happy with that. Robocop is pretty much a perfect film, completely untainted by all of the crap that came afterwards bearing its name and doesn’t need to be remade, rebooted, re-imagined, requeled, re-anything. But if we are getting one then there are areas of potential to change the character and his origin to make a different picture. There is no point in making a shot for shot remake of the original film or recycling all of the characters and having them function in exactly the same way.
For a start, I think the character of Robocop needs a slight design overhaul. Robocop was an action movie but the character wasn’t really suited for the high octane thrills we demand these days. He was an extremely slow, almost tank like character. It works perfectly in that first film, particularly in the scene where Robocop blasts through Kurtwood Smith’s drug factory, constantly moving forward towards his target, hundreds of bullets bouncing off his body, taking each criminal down with a slow put perfectly placed shot, an unstoppable force. The filmmakers also created that wonderful sound effect of Robo’s thunderous footsteps, almost akin to a T-Rex, heard from the criminals perspective as he entered a crime scene; a precursor to let them know that they are now well and truly fucked.
It would be a buzz for nostalgic purposes to see that again but if the new Robocop is truly going to be action packed, the character needs to be redesigned to be more agile and less bulky. Even as a child, I never bought the ridiculous stuff they had Robo doing in the second and third films like riding a motorbike and flying with a jetpack. In a new film, he needs to have the ability to actually run after bad guys on foot, dodge incoming fire and react quickly to hostile situations. A radical redesign is not needed. After all, if he doesn’t have the helmet he’s not Robocop. You can even keep the form and colour scheme of the robo-suit; just lose the bulky pieces around the chest and scale down the size of the costume so that it appears more like a second skin than armour. I think the more Robo blends in with the other police officers in terms of size and similarity to the body armour and helmets they wear, the more effective it will be, the more it will sell the idea to them and to the audience that this is meant to be the next evolution of law enforcement, their eventual replacement.
In the original film, the idea of how the police force really felt about being owned by a corporation and of a robot cop being among them was just one of a zillion concepts it was playing with. In this new film, though putting on a public face of simply augmenting it with the technology and facilities they have to offer, OCP (Omni Consumer Products), the corporation contracted to run the Old Detroit police department, secretly believes that the Robocop project is simply the first step of an eventual phasing out of traditional human officers being replaced by cyborgs (a theme that played in small part in the first and second films). But the police officers of Old Detroit aren’t stupid. They know exactly what is going on and when Robocop joins their ranks, it is akin to having a corporate suit serving (and spying) with them every day. It would be nice to give the regular police force a little more depth this time around. Imagine if you policed the worst, most crime ridden city in America, risked your life every day, got horrible pay, no gratitude, no social life, and now a corporation actually buys and owns you and threatens to get rid you simply because no matter how good you are at your job, a machine can do it better.
In the original film Alex Murphy, the cop who will become Robo, had only just transferred to Old Detroit and was murdered his very first day on duty. This was a brilliant way of showing just how out of control the crime wave in the city was but I would love to see a Murphy in the new film who is a veteran super cop of Old Detroit before he becomes a machine; someone who has a friendship with many of the officers on the force and watch the isolation and ostracization that occurs once he becomes Robocop. As far as they are concerned, he is a toy designed by the company that wants to eliminate all human cops from the streets, probably filled with recording devices constantly monitoring their conversations and reporting back to his corporate superiors.
I’d like to see the idea of ‘Directive 4’, the secret sub-routine that is programmed into Robo to stop him from arresting any OCP executive, implemented even earlier into the story. After weeks of successful arrests, of crime being beaten back and the regular police starting to trust Robocop, he would end up confronting some homicidal multiple murderer who turns about to be one of those executives (a cheeky nod to Patrick Bateman). Just as Robo is about to make the arrest, Directive 4 kicks in paralysing his systems. The killer makes a break for it and escapes the cops, even fatally wounding one in the process. This is the beginning of Robo (who has been wrestling between his programmed obligations to OCP and his human instincts)’s realisation that this may only be the start of the corporation’s criminal activities.
One thing I always wondered about in the original film was whether Robocop’s creator Bob Morton had any test subjects prior to Murphy. How did he know the integration of human tissue and robotics was going to work? It would be nice to see that developed in this film with Robocop following a bloodsoaked trail which starts at the scene of Alex Murphy’s murder and leads all the way to his creator. Rather than having Bob Morton be the creator in a new film, I’d actually rather have a Dick Jones type character fill the role; a ruthless villain who has created the robot cop through diabolical means.
At the start of the film, the city would be plagued by a series of killings by a particular gang who leave no visible trace of the victims bodies. Murphy becomes one of those unfortunate victims when he tracks them down to their hideout and doesn’t come out. We wouldn’t actually see Murphy’s murder or the perps who did it. We would see Murphy enter the crime scene, fade to black and then, just like in the original. He would awake as Robocop thus creating a real sense of mystery as to the background of his creation and the identity of those who killed him. In the third act, Robocop remembers the traces of his fragmented human memory, in particular the circumstances of his death, and tracks down his killers once more. Robo discovers that the reason the bodies of their victims were never recovered is that they were being sold to the Dick Jones character and harvested, sometimes whole, sometimes as just body parts, as experiments to create the Robocop prototypes.
With the rest of the Old Detroit police force in tow, Robocop penetrates the secret OCP facility where he was constructed and finds the horrifying left-overs of the victims before him, like some kind of evolutionary chain in cybernetic development culminating with him. It is a legacy he does not want to be part of and tries to bring his creator to justice who, in turn, unleashes the completed but totally psychotic Robo prototypes to kill Murphy. You may remember that very funny and twisted scene in Robocop 2 where the old man is shown a video of two prototype successors to their original pride and joy, both of which go crazy and commit suicide. I think there would be so much potential for the filmmakers to go nuts and create all manner of freakish looking cyborgs for Robocop to fight in the finale. It would sure trump anything in Terminator: Salvation that’s for sure.
Once the smoke clears from the final battle, Robocop’s creator is dead, the prototypes are destroyed but the lab and the atrocities created there remain. Unable to dig themselves out of the hole that will be created is the public knows, the top brass at OCP claim ignorance of the actual development of Robocop but strike a bargain with the Old Detroit Police assuring them that Alex Murphy will be the one and only robot cop on the streets and given his work to date, maybe that’s all it will take.
I know, I know, you all think I’m a retard but it could be fun.
But I like I said before chaps, Robocop doesn’t need to be remade and I’m not Darren Aronofsky. I think I’ve just proven that over the course of this article. I promise I’ll come up with something better next week. Till then…..
“Your move creeps”