On July 17, 1987, director Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop hit theaters. The Orion Pictures sci-fi actioner went on to gross $53 million that summer and launched a franchise. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review is below:
It’s 1991 and Detroit needs a new sheriff. Even a Magnum-shooting muscleman won’t do. Motown’s taken its murder capital reputation seriously, and things are now way out of control. Normal cops can’t handle it. The new gun brought to town is large, metal, computerized and impregnable … It’s part man/part machine and Robocop can wipe out all in its path.
Similarly, this well-crafted, science-fiction actioner should wipe up massive body counts at the box office for Orion. While those whose tastes don’t include the spectacle of large machines noisily blasting at each other are not likely to be enticed by Robocop, this shocking look at the urban future should engage and crank up action fans.
In Robocop, 31 cops have been killed since a high-tech conglomerate took over the beleaguered city’s police department. But the big-brother company’s latest prototypical security creation (a squat cannon-fisted, metal droid) guns down one of the corporation’s top marketing executives. Even in the executive board room, such aggression is considered untoward not suitable even for Detroit’s mean, inner-city streets.
Robocop’s shootouts are excessive, repetitive and when you get right down to it, pretty routine. In general, the bad guys are designer goons (bald headed, ear-ringed, chain-wearing boneheads), except for the film’s arch villain (Kurtwood Smith), who’s quiet and incredibly scary.