Robocop: Prime Directives (2001)

When reinventions fail, it can be hard to reboot again, even though it may be necessary. Times change and attitudes relax, sometimes a refresh can lead to a better creation to adapt to a changing world. In 2001, a subsequent reboot of the acclaimed film Robocop, once again did away with the extras of the adaptations to prove just that. To tell a sarcastically blunt story, dealing with Robocop and his Prime Directives.

Who has time for more than a minute of news when there’s so much internet in the future?

Told through four feature-length films, Prime Directives deals with Murphy 10 years after the events of the first film, Delta City is now safe thanks to his work, and he has lost his purpose. His son, thinking his father died has joined O.C.P. after they adopted him and has worked his way into upper management.  A new supercomputer with plans of automating Delta City may be dangerously getting a foothold, and a virus that has no regards for humanity may be a lot for Murphy to deal with. However, that is not all as a new cyborg is causing trouble, who maybe someone from Murphy’s past.

Media messaging and repackaging are prime targets for this series satirical edge.

As astute readers might ascertain, the continuity of the preceding films and the previous attempt at a T.V. show was retconned, though there are some leftover components integrated into the new product (kind of ironic if you think about it), lines from the films are mentioned more too along with clips from the ‘94 show are used in great effect. The tone has shifted to, from family-friendly goofiness to a morose yet sharply cynical action, that feels a lot less child friendly than before. It is not as gory or profane as the original film as it is still constrained by T.V. guidelines but there will be more than a fair portion who will be entertained.

Though he’s once again played by a new actor, Fletcher captures the tragedy of Murphy’s predicament while making the character totally his own.

We spend a lot more time with Pre-robotised Murphy as opposed to the ‘94 outing, his tragic tale of being artificially ‘reborn’ and dealing with increasing obsolescence. Some of the satirical sting of the first series returns but in bursts. For example, we are treated to a very corporate looking-like-it-came-out-of-a-Realplayer-video-circa-2001 news update and those are intercut with Archie Nemesis, a populist pundit that feels like Alex Jones by the way of Martin Short, but that does not stop him from being entertaining, funny, and bringing a little colour to the world of Delta City.

Archie Nemesis jokey name is typical of the series, but his perfect encapsulation of populist pundits helps him stand out.

The over-the-top-humour of the first show May have been jettisoned, but Prime Directives are leaner, fitter, and rawer for it. Satisfying action returns, even though it is limited it is engaging enough and the dilemmas that are teased from the end of the first film are provoked and newer cooperate intrigue, bridges the 14-year gap from the first film. With the four prime directives, we have evidence that the ghost in the machine is still as strong as ever.

It wouldn’t be Robocop without ruthless corporate intrigue.

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