You know how the first two RoboCop films were ultra-violent affairs of varying quality? They both had funny moments, and they both had blood and bullets flying everywhere? Say goodbye to those with RoboCop 3, a film that went for a PG-13 rating. The filmmakers removed any sort of comedy — whether that was done to keep it family friendly or not is up for debate — and all of the action has been significantly toned down. So, yes, the kiddies can see this but anyone who saw the first film, and the second one, too, I suppose, will want to give it a miss.
Detroit is still a war zone in RoboCop 3, although the drug from the second film is not to blame. OCP, the evil corporation from both earlier films, is driving people from their homes with their “Rehabilitators” — people who force people into quarantine zones so that the company can flatten houses and build apartment buildings. It’s cleaning up the city in its own way, although it seems immoral to anyone who is actually watching it.
RoboCop (now played by Robery Burke instead of Peter Weller, not that it matters considering you rarely get to see his whole face), is also cleaning up the streets in the way that cops normally try to. His partner, Anne (Nancy Allen reprises her role, for a brief time), is also there, although they’re more sympathetic to the rebel forces that are forming. Eventually, and soon enough into the film for it not to be a major spoiler, Anne is killed and RoboCop joins the “good” guys in order to take down the corporation that has caused everyone just so much grief.
From here, you can pretty much see where the film is going to go. The only new element is that OCP has been taken over by a Japanese company, so the villain that will actually challenge RoboCop — considering bullets and ordinary weapons are grossly inefficient in dealing with him — is a ninja played by Bruce Locke. Yes, we’re at the point in the series when we’re having the barely mobile robot getting involved in hand-to-hand combat scenes with a ninja. Oy vey.
How did nobody not think that this would be a bad idea? The first two films had guns and guns and more guns because they at least understood that the hero couldn’t participate well in close combat situations. He can’t even run; how is he supposed to have a fist fight? You’ve got to give the film credit for at least trying something different — and it was no doubt done in an attempt to remove some of the bloody violence to acquire that PG-13 — but this was simply the wrong way to go about it.
It didn’t have to be this way, either. RoboCop actually gets a couple of upgrades this time around — which I won’t spoil — and it would have been easy to make up a way to make him more mobile. This would have allowed for him to at least hold his own the fight scenes. Instead, we just watch the ninja run around, occasionally hit, do a flip every now and then, while RoboCop does nothing back. It’s a stupid, stupid decision to have this as the final major action scene in the movie, and it makes the one from last film look genius in comparison.
The first couple of films had a sense of humor. While the first was far more enjoyable, the second almost matched it in terms of being funny. I can’t remember one scene or line from RoboCop 3. The only somewhat dark moment came when a businessman, while talking to his wife, decides to jump out of a building, killing himself. The first or second film might have played it for a laugh; this one does it for shock — except it’s not shocking and it’s quickly forgotten by everyone.
I’d like to find a positive in the movie but I just can’t. Perhaps saying that Robert Burke reminded me a lot of Peter Weller is a positive? Can we use that? Once the mask is on, it doesn’t matter who is behind it. In fact, I’m almost surprised they took it off at all, as it wouldn’t have been hard to leave it on for the entirety of the movie. If anything, Peter Weller was smart for not deciding to return for this installment, and I have to wonder if he tried to get his co-stars out as well. Most of them return, so if you like series continuity, at least there’s that!
RoboCop continues to be a boring character, although at least we go back to how he ended the first film and have him at least able to emote a little bit. He’s decidedly more human than robot in this film, which at least makes him a little likable. But he’s wooden, has difficulty being harmed — although he does get hurt by this one in a way that didn’t hurt him in a previous installment, which was weird — and is just a less mobile, less powerful version of, say, Superman.
All of the freshness that was in the series is gone by this point. RoboCop 3, like a lot of third installments, is the worst in the bunch, and has very few, if any redeeming features. It made me hate the lead character more than I thought I could, even though it returned him to the way he ended the first film. The action and humor have both been toned down, removing exactly what made the first film — and to a lesser extent, the second, too — special. Don’t give this movie even a second of consideration; it’s an all-around dud.