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Peter Weller in Robocop (1987)

Peter Weller, back in the 80s, was the geekgirl’s dream - devastatingly handsome, intelligent, witty and multi-talented. Surrounded by his hunky Hong Kong Cavaliers in Buckaroo Banzai, crooning Since I Don’t have You to a sobbing Ellen Barkin, he was the epitome of the Renaissance man - actor, musician, singer and all round charmer, much like Viggo Mortenson in more recent times.

So Robocop seemed like an odd choice for him. What could this superbly talented man bring to a standard SF story about cyborgs and law enforcement? As it turned out - everything. He not only brought his superior acting skills to the film, lifting it far above ‘standard’, he brought warmth, humor, pathos and dignity to the character of Robocop.

Set in Detroit in the not too distant future, when technology is the last line of defense against crime in the street - and everywhere else - Robocop is the creation of young go getter Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer in the role that defined his future as a cinematic sleazebag) of Omni Consumer Products. Unfortunately, Morton needs a freshly dead cop for the project and snaps up the corpse of Officer Alex Murphey (Weller) when he is mown down by crims in a warehouse in the most crime ridden Detroit precinct.

Murphy is resurrected as Robocop, his memories wiped, and most of his body replaced by state of the art cyborg technology. Only his former partner, Officer Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) recognizes the man behind the armor. She triggers memories of happy life with his wife and child, and Robocop goes on the hunt for the men who killed Murphy.

But the corruption goes deeper and higher than the cops on the beat could ever have suspected, right into the upper echelons of OCP. The crims in the streets are bad enough, but these are sleazebags of the highest rank, chief among them Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) whose own experimental robocop went berserk and shot up the boardroom. He’s mad as hell at Morton for succeeding where he failed, and that’s bad news for Morton and his creation.

The movie was directed by Paul Verhoeven, so it’s pretty much a blood bath from beginning to end, but what it also is is a surprisingly witty, sharp and intelligent social commentary, with excellent performances from all the leads, including Ferrer, Cox and Allen. Kurtwood Smith as street crime boss Clarence Boddicker, and Dan O’Herhily as the chairman of OCP also shine. But most of all it is Peter Weller that reaches out a steel fist and touches the viewer’s heart with a performance of extraordinary depth and sensitivity.

Well, not so extraordinary really - not from Weller.

I purchased this DVD with my own funds.

Robocop:
Robocop

Buckaroo Banzai:
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension

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