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The RoboCop Scene That Aged Poorly

With possibly the most generic '80s action-movie title ever (apologies to "Commando"), 1987's "RoboCop" was an unexpected hit that went on to achieve serious cult status. Starring the then-unknown Peter Weller as Alex Murphy — a cop who dies in the line of duty only to be fused with machine parts and revived (minus most of his memory) — this ultra-violent gem went on to inspire two forgettable sequels and an even more forgettable reboot (sometimes referred to as "RoboFlop") in 2014.

There's a lot to like about the original Paul Verhoeven-directed classic, though. While at times over-the-top with the violence, "RoboCop" is fun, action-packed, satirical, funny, and still engaging today. In light of technological and AI developments in the decades that followed, the film even seems more relevant now in many ways. We're all starting to think about a cyborg future for ourselves in one way or another.

Aside from some understandably dated visual effects, the movie holds up well. Weller gives a strong performance, and Nancy Allen ("Carrie") is game as his feisty partner. Also, she's totally to blame for Murphy's violent death in the first place, but whatever. There are villains worth hating, and the whole thing is a blast.

But there is one scene that doesn't feel as entertaining as it probably did in 1987.

RoboCop takes serious crime lightly

For sure, there is a firm tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that permeates "RoboCop," and most of the time, it works. However, one scene when our metal-faced hero is out on patrol doesn't pass the 2021 vibe check entirely. When RoboCop/Murphy comes across a woman being chased, harassed, and assaulted by two street thugs, it's more than an uncomfortable moment. The whole encounter is portrayed in an almost cartoonish way, ending when RoboCop shoots through the victim's skirt and into the bad guy — precisely where no man wants to take a bullet (and exactly where the audience wants this one to get it). The traumatized woman then rushes to hug her savior, who robotically suggests she talk to a therapist after her ordeal. 

It's all fine, and it makes sense in context. But it feels like it's played for a laugh — and sexual assault is not a very amusing subject in the book of 2021. To be fair, it's consistent with the movie's tone — it just hasn't aged as well as the rest of the film.

That said, it certainly didn't slow the movie down in 1987 when "RoboCop" walked away with $53 million at the box office off of a $13 million budget, per Box Office Mojo. Despite all the franchise missteps, there's talk of a proper sequel ("RoboCop Returns") that would disregard everything that came after the original movie. But don't hold your breath — and maybe don't take 1987's "RoboCop" too seriously.