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Movie Review: 'Robocop 3' (1993)

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Shady company OCP is taken over by Asian corporation Kanemitsu, which then forecloses on Detroit – a poverty-stricken, mismanaged city having defaulted on its debts. Privatization of the government is making way for Delta City, a sleek series of glass and metal superstructures that will replace standard homes and neighborhoods. Menacing “Urban Rehabilitation Officers” are deployed, using any force necessary to evict civilians prior to total demolition of the Cadillac Heights area. A resistance to the hostile takeover is formed, with Bertha (CCH Pounder), Coontz (Stephen Root), driver Moreno (Daniel von Bargen), and the young computer whiz Nikko (Remy Ryan) ransacking a weapons depot to arm their members.

They’re pursued by Officer Ann Lewis (Nancy Allen) of Unit 477, along with her longtime cyborg partner Robocop (Robert Burke), before the policemen are sidetracked by a skirmish with the anarchic Splatterpunks gang. Meanwhile, Commander Paul McDaggett (John Castle) is assigned by the OCP CEO (Rip Torn) to abolish the opposition from a militaristic standpoint, while the subsidiary Security Concepts’ division leader Fleck (Bradley Whitford) is tasked to reappropriate Robocop for the Urban Rehab team. But Robocop’s handler, Dr. Marie Lazarus (Jill Hennessy), purposely destroys the micro neuro-barrier device intended to suppress the cyborg’s memories and emotions, allowing the trooper to continue making his own decisions. When Lewis is gunned down by McDaggett, Robocop goes underground (literally) to join the insurgents and fight OCP’s tyranny.

Basil Poledouris’ sensationally rousing music returns, grandly introducing Robocop’s initial appearance. Other segments of his score can also be heard from time to time, emerging from the background to convince audiences that this third chapter in the “Robocop” franchise intends to revisit the heart-pounding excitement of the original. Several clips from the first film are also edited into the picture. The story hasn’t changed significantly, still providing loose opportunities for the metallic constable to riddle enemies with unlimited ammo, though turning the titular character rogue is appealingly fresh.

The focus on humanizing the man trapped in a robotic body similarly resurfaces, bringing emotional revenge and increasing connection with mankind to the forefront. An animated commercial and “Media Break” news footage once again serve as comic relief and biting commentary instead of mere expected inclusions. “Robocop 3” is lighter, wittier, and clearly more concerned with action and explosions than bloodthirsty violence (this is the first of the trilogy to garner the more lenient PG-13 rating), refraining from the second film’s nastiness or the first’s experiment in satirical excesses. It’s also commendable that even though Weller doesn’t reprise the main role, an actor with similar features and a commanding voice takes the reins. With lengthy combat sequences, an unexplainably advanced ninja android (Bruce Locke), and Robocop’s rather unconvincing and underdeveloped jetpack apparatus, the result doesn’t quite translate to well-paced, consistently exhilarating science-fiction adventure, but it’s nonetheless a tonal improvement from the previous sequel and an enjoyable follow-up.

- The Massie Twins

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