RoboCop 3 is the final installment in the original RoboCop film series, released in 1993. It is one of the many family-friendly installments in the franchise, and was the first in the series to be rated PG-13. The movie was the last to be directed by Fred Dekker of the The Monster Squad fame (not unlike what RoboCop 2 is to Irvin Kershner of The Empire Strikes Back and Never Say Never Again fame), and like RoboCop 2, is once again written by Frank Miller of The Dark Knight Returns, 300, and Sin City fame, who based the script on his rejected draft for that movie. Peter Weller, who played the titular protagonist in the first two movies, was unavailable to reprise his role, and thus he was replaced by Robert John Burke.
The movie is widely considered to be the worst in the franchise, earning a 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, and bombed at the box office, only making $10 million out of a budget of $22 million. Miller, upon finding out that his script was yet again heavily altered from what he originally wrote, swore off Hollywood until his collaboration with Robert Rodriguez on the film adaptation of Sin City. He said that he "...learned the same lesson. Don't be the writer. The director's got the power. The screenplay is a fire hydrant, and there’s a row of dogs around the block waiting for it".
After the failure of the Robocop program, OCP is on the verge of bankruptcy after a series of failed business plans and drop of stocks, and are now struggling with their plans to create the new Delta City. To speed up the process, OCP creates an armed force called the Urban Rehabilitators, nicknamed "Rehabs," under the command of Paul McDaggett. Ostensibly its purpose is to combat rising crime in Old Detroit, augmenting the ranks of the Detroit Police Department in apprehending violent criminals. In reality, it has been set up to forcibly relocate the residents of Cadillac Heights. Nikko, a Japanese-American computer whiz kid, loses her parents in the process.
The police force is gradually superseded by the Rehabs, and violent crime begins to spiral out of control. The Delta City dream of the former OCP CEO, "Old Man", lives on with the help of the Japanese Kanemitsu Corporation, which has bought a controlling stake in OCP and is trying to finance the plan. Kanemitsu, CEO of the Kanemitsu Corporation, sees the potential in the citywide redevelopment, and moves forward with the plans to remove the current citizens in order to create Delta City. The company develops and uses its own ninja androids called "Otomo" to help McDaggett and the new OCP president overcome the resistance of anti-OCP militia forces.
RoboCop and his partner Anne Lewis try to defend civilians from the Rehabs one night, but Lewis is mortally wounded by McDaggett and eventually dies. Unable to fight back because of his "Fourth Directive" programming, RoboCop is saved by members of a resistance movement composed of Nikko and residents from Cadillac Heights and eventually joins them. Due to severe damage sustained in the shoot-out, RoboCop's systems efficiency plummets, and he asks the resistance to summon Dr. Lazarus, one of the scientists who created him. Upon arrival she begins to treat him, deleting the Fourth Directive in the process. During an earlier raid on an armory, the resistance picked up a jet-pack prototype, originally intended for RoboCop's use, which Lazarus modifies and upgrades to hold RoboCop.
After recovering from his injuries, RoboCop conducts a one-man campaign against the Rehabs and OCP. He finds McDaggett and attempts to subdue him, but McDaggett is able to escape. McDaggett then obtains information from a disgruntled resistance member regarding the location of the resistance fighters' base. The Rehabs attack and most of the resistance members are either killed or taken prisoner. RoboCop returns to the rebel base to find it abandoned. One Otomo unit arrives and attacks him. RoboCop experiences another power drain and his left arm and auto gun is destroyed, but eventually he is able to overcome his opponent with his arm-mounted gun. Nikko infiltrates the OCP building and assists a captured Lazarus in broadcasting an improvised video, revealing OCP's responsibility for the criminality in the city and implicating them in the removal and killing of the Cadillac Heights residents. The broadcast causes OCP's stock to plunge, driving the company into financial ruin and bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, McDaggett decides to execute an all-out strike against Cadillac Heights with the help of the Detroit police, but the police officers, enraged at the company's sadistic ways, refuse to comply and instead defect to the resistance in order to get revenge for Lewis and their salaries and pensions, escalating the rebellion against OCP into a full-scale city war. As a result, McDaggett turns to hiring street gangs and hooligans to assist with his plans.
Having heard Lazarus' broadcast, RoboCop provides aerial support for the entrenched resistance forces. He then proceeds to the OCP building and confronts the waiting McDaggett. RoboCop is then attacked, and nearly defeated, by two Otomo robots. Nikko and Lazarus succeed in reprogramming them using a wireless link from a laptop computer forcing them to attack each other. The Otomos' self-destruct system activates, forcing RoboCop to flee with Nikko and Lazarus. The flaming discharge from the jet-pack immobilizes McDaggett, leaving him to perish in the blast.
As Old Detroit is being cleaned up, Kanemitsu arrives and finally comes face to face with RoboCop and his group, while his translator tells the OCP president on Kanemitsu's behalf that he is fired, as the corporation shuts down OCP for good and plans to leave Detroit. Kanemitsu then bows to RoboCop and the group in respect.
Why It Should Be Taken Dead or Alive
- The fact that the movie is rated PG-13 along with the 2014 remake of the original film instead of being rated R like the first two RoboCop movies means that the violence gets, unfortunately, toned down, which does not work because RoboCop was never designed as a children’s character.
- The film can't make up its own mind regarding its target demographic:
- In some scenes it’s too childish for adult viewers, yet in others it's too dark for children.
- Lame action scenes.
- Terrible attempts at comedy.
- Very bad pacing.
- Has cool concepts like jetpacks and ninja robots... yet manages to screw them up.
- Very poor special effects, especially during RoboCop's flight sequences.
- Abysmal editing. For instance, in the scene where Otomo slices RoboCop's hand off, you can clearly see the actor's arm behind his back.
- Speaking of the Otomo, the special effects for the scene towards the end of the film at the OCP building where RoboCop shoots an Otomo in the head are awful, and the Otomo even has a very creepy smile before being shot.
- Anne Lewis, a great supporting character from the first two films, is killed only 30 minutes into this movie.
- Numerous plot holes.
- For instance, when Lewis is killed, RoboCop is unable to kill the Rehab soldiers because of his fourth prime directive forbidding him from killing OCP members, even though said directive was already removed in the second film.
- Speaking of Nikko Halloran, it is never explained why she is very skilled with computers and her existence comes out of nowhere.
- The villains, especially Paul McDaggett (John Castle's character), are written in a way that makes them look extremely cartoonish and unbelievable. In contrast to Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and Cain (Tom Noonan) who were decent and menacing antagonists.
- Ridiculous scenes:
- There is a ridiculous scene at the start of the movie where the ED-209, the iconic villain from the first film, is reduced to being a cameo in which it is reprogrammed to being as loyal as a puppy by new protagonist Nikko Halloran.
- In the final battle, the Detroit police somehow fail to hit all of the Rehab soldiers and the criminals, even though they are slowly walking straight.
- On the topic of the final battle, it feels like a knockoff of the starship battles in Star Wars.
- Mathematical errors all over the place. The damaged RoboCop says that he's only efficient at 23%, yet his HUD says that he's only efficient at 12%.
- RoboCop at one point mentions that he was once Alex Murphy, inferring that Murphy has died and he never regained his humanity, thus making the end of the first film pointless.
- Peter Weller, the actor that played RoboCop in the first two films didn't reprise his role for this film due to commitments with Naked Lunch. He is replaced by Robert John Burke, who's nowhere near as good and sounds extremely bland compared to Weller. A notable example is when Lewis is killed and RoboCop sounds very wooden when talking to her.
- Unlike RoboCop 2, RoboCop does say his catchphrase “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me!” but the way he delivers the line in this movie is terrible since he sounds very bland, like he sounds in the whole of the movie.
- The movie attempts to explain why RoboCop no longer looks like Peter Weller by having RoboCop’s face get damaged by fire requiring him to have new facial tissue. However, this does not work because the fire is never seen touching his face and his voice is also obviously different before he is set on fire, due to a different actor playing RoboCop.
- It is disrespectful to the Japanese language because almost all of the dialogue that is supposed to be in Japanese is gibberish. There is only a few words spoken that are from the Japanese language.
- Originally went through development hell.
- It was originally filmed in 1991 but didn’t get released until 1993 due to Orion Pictures going bankrupt. As a result of this, the game based on the movie was released before this movie came out and spoiled the movie.
- Awful direction by Fred Dekker.
- They got the first RoboCop film's composer, Basil Poledouris, to come back, and his soundtrack is pretty decent, and definitely better than that of RoboCop 2.
- There are many unintentionally funny moments.
- The Johnny Rehab commercial part is surprisingly well animated, given that it is animated by Rough Draft Studios.
- S.D. Nemeth makes a cameo appearance as comedian Bixby Snyder at the start of the movie and once again gets to say “I’d buy that for a dollar!”
- RoboCop's suit still looks nice.
- In addition, his jetpack and weapons look cool.
- Contrary to popular belief, Peter Weller was actually interested in returning for this film, and came to visit Fred Dekker personally. They spent a good half-hour talking together, in which Weller told Dekker he wanted to reprise his role as RoboCop, but had a conflict with filming Naked Lunch in which Weller had been recently cast after actively campaigning for the lead role. Dekker was very impressed and honored to this day by the fact that Weller actually came over to talk to him about his intentions.