OBJECTIVE: Watch a popular or critically acclaimed film we’ve never seen to the halfway point. Pause it. Work together to predict the ending.
THE LAST THING WE SAW: We paused at 51:00, a little after RoboCop has his first “dream” and storms out of the station. RoboCop had just pulled up at the gas station and told one of Boddicker’s thugs, “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”
And now… discuss!
Ben: Well, Phil, I’ve gotta say, they picked the perfect chap to be RoboCop. His Aryan features and procedural mannerisms aren’t just wooden, they’re robotic, and well before Weller becomes a semi-human sentinel. How did you feel when Red Foreman put his foot in the cop’s robo-ass? For me, it was a strange mixture of shock and schlock.
Phil: Which scene are you talking about? Do you mean metaphorically or literally?
Ben: I mean the metaphorical ass-foot during the literal hand-shooting. I feel like that was one of many moments where I felt a mixture of mild shock, moderate exposition, and severe hilarity. Did you feel the same way, and do you think that trend will continue?
Phil: Oh, yes, absolutely. Very similar reaction. I actually noted down how I did not expect the movie to contain its arguably excessive amount of graphic violence (not that I am minding one way or another). What I find interesting is the combination of this B-movie-level goriness coupled with some very accomplished tracking shots and visually appealing angles (such as the shadows of RoboCop simultaneously evoking a comic book feeling and an almost The Third Man-esque mood). So I do hope all of this continues. Where do you think the story is going? I have a bunch of ideas, but, to start with, I am thinking that he is going to get full-on revenge on the bank heist thieves.
Ben: This movie is absolutely going in that direction; we even see RoboProtagonist start by taking out one of the offending gang. One thing it really has going for it, narratively, is a breezy story-telling style that stops the action only when necessary. The violence has even been incorporated into the exposition whenever possible. Take, for example, the sweet violence-boner that Murphy gets when watching Allen sexily punch the injustice out of the crook in the police station before meeting formally. I foresee that style staying in place, don’t you?
Phil: Yes! In fact, I think that, since she seems to still be a character (stopping him in the hall, recognizing his Aryan chin and procedural mannerisms), his erstwhile partner is going to be a big part of the second half. Do you agree? I think she might even be what eventually berserks his humanity back into his robo-cranium.
Ben: I’d be very surprised if that isn’t exactly what happens. That seems very predictable, but what did you think of some of the other/earlier foreshadowing? I cite the “French-made neutron bomb” (oh God, my sides), the implementation of Delta City (is that a thing yet in the movie?), and the downfall of Robert Morton, who I think is being pushed as a secondary, more subtle villain.
Phil: Ooooh, I had forgotten about all that. Actually, yeah, I think that could easily play into it; something a little more high-up and sinister going on that all this “smaller-time” stuff is a part of. Into what do you think the foreshadowing could eventually materialize?
Ben: Well, he’s one of those stereotypes that started popping up after Wall Street was hot: the on-the-go cocky whitey in a suit with partially witty ways of telling everyone else to screw themselves while philosophically tonguing Reagan’s trickle-hole. In a way, the plot structure and presentation pays homage to Shakespeare and other multi-tiered storytellers. There’s usually both an obvious and a nuanced side to each scene. To wit, when RoboFace is coming online with difficulties, the scientists/literal viewers are faced with the problem, “Oh no, what if he doesn’t work?” Meanwhile, the top brass and philosophical viewers are wondering, “What if he DOES work…too well?” We even get a preview of that with Erectile Dysfunction-209.
Phil: And in keeping with this stereotype, I foresee this suit, and the toady-with-cojones who is one-upping him, each coming to their suitable Dante-esque comeuppance, Reaganomics-style. One thing that really struck me about this film, though, is that on each occurrence when RoboB.A.M.F. enters the midst of a crime, the criminal always turns away from his victims and tries to fight him. This seems like a bizarre reaction to me, trying to fight off the very thing that only Sarah Connor is able to. Why don’t they put the innocents in immediate peril, in an attempt try to stop RoboDude from coming any closer (his second directive)? Frankly, I think all of this will culminate in Mr. Heist using Police Constable Allen in this manner, and upon seeing his former and now only friend in danger, Robostein will remember who he is and get vengeance on both a robotic and human level.
Ben: RoboJesus just may do that. I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but this movie just might be smart/bold enough to circumvent that hostage cliché, at least until the last act where it might be inevitable. The plot development would be more clear to me if I totally understood where the O.C.P. ends and the Police Department begins. Can you clear that up, or are you as dumb as me?
Phil: I’m as dumb as you.
Ben: Mother of God. Well, maybe it just wasn’t explained super-well. Where does the corporation’s influence overstep the procedural rulebook? Am I thinking too hard for RoboCop? It might have just been a premise.
One area of the flick is ripe for both sociological discussion and end-of-film prediction: Someone early on states that a major specific urban problem was the “Old Detroit crime cancer.” That’s definitely how ’80s movies like this one portrayed it, although I think it’s fair to say that the popular outlook now is that Detroit suffered/suffers from an economic cancer. Realistically, I think that the latter caused the former. Are you still as dumb as me, or do you have a different explanation?
Phil: I’m not sure. I know that economics and crime are certainly linked. I wonder if these rich and charmless bastards at the top, who have little regard for their fellow man (poor old “I dropped the gun, for pity’s sake!”-man and their specific reactions to his grisly demise are cases in point) have anything to do with Detroit’s crime epidemic. This could be the web in which the smaller crimes fit— crimeception!
Ben: The applause during that presentation seemed artificially masturbatory, especially given the grisly ending. Anyway, my broad-strokes (that sums up my weekend pretty well) predictions for the end of the motion picture are as follows: RoboGlock hunts down a few members of the gun-crazy gang, one by one. Lewis will get into peril and/or kidnapped again. Weller’s character will experience RoboHorniness for her, and RoboCops will dream of electric sex. Someone will call him by his O.G. street name, Murphy. Someone will put a cap in Red Foreman’s ass. Later, the career or life of Morton will end, but not before he finds a dramatic/funny way to use the word “fuck.”
I’ve showed you mine, will you show me yours?
Phil: I don’t know whether this movie is just entirely predictable, or we are Titans in the prediction industry, or we are both being led down the garden path of this film together, but my prediction is pretty damned similar. Here is what I think: We paused right as he was about to take out one of the Heistmen, and from him he’ll get some information as to where the rest of the banditos are. (His dream/recollection of his final moments are clearly propelling him towards them, anyway.) RoboMurphy seems to have some sort of “sixth sense” as to where crimes will occur, and this will come in handy in terms of finding them. Upon discovering their lair (which will definitely be a disused warehouse), he will also find out what ties these small-time criminals to the bigger web of intrigue. I also think that this is where his mysterious “Fourth Directive” will come in, which I think involves bringing down O.C.P. Second-in-Command (this directive coded by the toady) and his involvement in the crime net. Furthermore, while taking down the money-burning robbers, his ex-partner will be aiding him in his quest, and she’ll be taken hostage; the Heistmen will finally be smart enough not to fight back against RoboGoliath and use her as insurance that he stop coming after them. During this, Allen’s beseeching him by name, coupled with being faced with his own killers, will bring much of his bygone memories to the surface, thus enabling him to be RoboCop with Humanity! And, hell, this was the ’80s, so he’ll be able to blend into society by doing the Robot perfectly.
AND NOW, WE FINISH THE MOVIE:
Ben Katz works in acting and politics. You should talk to him on Twitter. Phil Hobby is an actor, writer, and director. Wait with quivering anticipation for his performance in Banky Reed and the Passage to the Edge of Space, a web series debuting soon, and tweet at him.