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Headscratchers / RoboCop (2014)

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    Why is Robocop better than the "old" robots? 
  • It's established in the movie that whenever Robo's visor is down for combat situations, the software takes over and Murphy's brain has no actual input on what's going on. In that case, why was Robocop so much better while fighting the OmniCorp drones? Under such conditions, He would be operating as he was yet another robot.
    • Norton mentions during the final test that Robocop's combat programming was more advanced and faster-operating than the EM-208's.
    • Also kind of WMG but Norton was literally in Murphy's head at the time perhaps he added some additional hardware to Murphy's subconscious to get the software to shave off those few seconds that everyone worried about.
    • In that scene, Norton mentions that the droids would be trying to maneuver Murphy into Maddox's line of fire, so their programming was probably altered to be easier to defeat for the exercise.
    • The droids are maneuvering him towards Maddox because only his gun is powerful enough to take Murphy out. So yeah, the test was rigged. On the other hand it is also a pretty good benchmark, if Maddox (who is just a guy in a suit) can take out their top-of-the-line cyborg then what's the point of him tactically in the first place?
      • It's also a realistic approximation of what he can expect to face - and, indeed, does later in the movie, during the drug lab assault scene. A gang's not gonna have all their members equipped with .50cal anti-materiel weapons that can take him out; they're going to have primarily lighter pistols and other small arms, but they could well have a single boss - or several heavy weapons guys - with such powerful weapons. In which case the other gangsters, if well-organized, would indeed be trying to set him up for their boss/heavies to get a shot...
    • I assumed that was showing OCP's hypocrisy at work. They need a product with conscience, so they do the bare minimum by adding human parts, but there's no way they'd ever give up a modicum of control over their new drone, so "product with a human conscience" becomes a tagline that's only true in the most technical sense.

     Why keep the hand? 
  • Sure it's a slight nod to the original, but keeping Murphy's right hand serves no practical purpose (yes, it literally didn't do anything the left, mechanical hand couldn't). That hand still needs nutrition to keep from being necrotized, and is vulnerable as hell. Taking a shot there means an useless stump, every punch risks breaking it, and trying too hard to grab something might yank it clean off the arm.
    • Robocop is a PR stunt, so the hand probably was left there to give him a bit more of a symbolic human touch, that the finger pulling the trigger is human, not robotic. I do agree that it was odd to see such detail left untouched, a couple of lines of dialogue addresing it would have been enough.
      • One of the cut scenes reveals that Sellars asked Norton to save Murphy's right hand for the sake of handshakes.
      • Also it's Murphy's right hand (that is, the one you shake with) which represents the bridge between man and machine.
      • Notice that when Murphy goes to shake Maddox's hand he offers him his left (robotic) one. in a subtle "Fuck you too."
  • There is also the fact the hand probably requires a ton of technobabble to explain how it can work without the tendons in the arm.
    • That's assuming it actually is a living hand, and not some robotic armature clad in Murphy's plastinated skin for cosmetic purposes.

     The Organs They Did Keep 
  • The brain's a given and I can see keeping what they could of the face to make him look human and give him more realistic facial expressions, but why the rest? Surely they could have kept the brain alive without the heart and lungs, and they and the rest of the organs only serve to make him vulnerable.
    • His mouth and esophagus are intact but lead nowhere. Where does the saliva and mucus he produces and swallows go?
      • Probably an internal receptacle that'd need to be emptied and sanitized during his recharge time.
    • Having real lungs, nose/mouth, and (one real) eye is a safety hazard. He's susceptible to tear gas, pepper spray, and even airborne diseases. Even if they could filter out the pathogens during blood maintenance, do you really want to risk the initial stress on his already limited system? And it's kind of ridiculous to allow your otherwise superhuman cyborg to be able to get too choked with smoke to save someone from a burning building, or to be incapacitated by a goon with a gas grenade.
      • Why would he be incapacitated by gas? Remember, his artificial components take over when he's in combat mode. Even if his organic brain passes out or his living eye gets blinded, his robot parts will just keep on fighting and haul his fleshy bits along for the ride.
    • If he were shot in the mouth just right, the bullet could rip through his soft innards and cause all sorts of internal damage and blood loss, probably killing him. It's unlikely, but also a completely unnecessary risk.
    • They left the face intact for similar reasons they left the hand intact — PR. Murphy had to appear human. The easiest way to do that is to leave his face human. Manufacturing a new face might make it less vulnerable, but then you're in the Uncanny Valley.
      • They may also be skirting the boundaries of whatever the criteria for "legally dead" happen to be, in various jurisdictions where Omnicorp hopes to market Robocops. If one or more of those markets has "capable of breathing" on its list of qualities that formally distinguish someone as a living, autonomous human being, then making sure he can still do that can ensure Omnicorp's products won't be banned under laws that restrict the sale of human body parts.

     Who's in control, man or machine? 
  • Did Murphy become aware at some point of what goes on whenever the visor goes down? or by the end he remains fooled into thinking that he is the one kicking ass?
    • Murphy probably 'bled' over into the software a bit, becoming a sort of directive-based overseer to the rest of the software. He both is and isn't kicking ass.

     Red tagged 
  • How was Murphy able to shoot Sellars when he was 'redtagged' and moments earlier was unable to shoot Mattox?
    • Because as established earlier in the movie with the guitar player with the robotic hand, emotions interfere with programming. This is reinforced when his wife pleads with him to not forget his family, giving him the will to investigate his own murder. When Murphy faced Mattox, he wasn't emotional enough to overcome the red band programming. Even in the initial confrontation with Sellars, he couldn't overcome that block until Sellars threatened his family, giving him the emotional surge he needed to bypass that bit of programming.
    • Earlier in the movie, Murphy overrode his priorities and investigated his own murder case. It might be possible that by threatening to kill his wife and son, Sellars gave him enough resolve to to override the 'Do not shoot the red-tagged ones' directive, while he couldn't do so earlier even to save his own life.
      • Likely even MORE inline recall how the Redtags are told NOT to shoot or get out of line, just in case. Guess what Sellars does? Threaten two unarmed civilians. Likely the program weakened AND Alex resolved more because Sellars went from unthreatening asset of the highest priority to threatening violent crime on civilians.

     Murphy's face 
  • Alex Murphy took a bomb to the face. When he is lying on the hospital bed, you can see that the burns extend to his face. Why is there not the slightest hint of scarring anywhere once he's in the Robocop outfit?
    • Perhaps they took a skin grafts from the rest of his undamaged body. There was a lot of surgery after all.
      • Facial skin is not like the rest. That's why facial skin graft recipients take a dip right into the abyss of the Uncanny Valley.
    • It's also possible that they used stem cells to repair the damage that had been done to what was salvaged. Sure, they're capable of all of this advanced surgery and cybernetics. Why not just grow him a new body entirely? I don't imagine growing a new body can be done in a short amount of time(considering that they had a schedule to follow when it came to saving Murphy's life)even with their level of technology, and I don't imagine it would be easy to port an existing brain over to said newly grown body and hooking up the old brain to the new nervous system. It might be easier just to hook up his brain and remaining organs to a cyborg body. Besides, if they had just ported Murphy's brain into a newly grown and highly vulnerable organic body, we wouldn't have Robocop.
      • Thing is, if they could grow body parts like that, Dr Norton's entire field of research would be pointless, there would be no need to develop better prosthetic limbs if you could simply get a new pair of legs.
      • It's probably cheaper to build robot limbs than to clone new ones.
      • Also, unless there's an issue with neuroprosthesis rejection syndrome it would be safer than using organic limbs since limb transplants are extremely difficult.

     No new tech for the human cops 
  • Is there any reason the regular, non-cyborg cops couldn't use the massive video database that would allow them to solve practically any crime in Detroit?
    • Lack of manpower/corruption. Don't forget, the Chief of Police is on Vallon's payroll.
    • They also don't have access to the processing power needed to sort and cross-reference all that data. The police would have whatever government funding could get for them, and whatever that is is probably long since obsolete. Murphy has the bleeding edge technology from OmniCorp. It's almost literally the difference between your couple years old desktop versus a supercomputer.

     The car bomb 
  • So, that car's planted in the hospital, but waits until Murphy's at home to go off. It can also somehow trigger the car alarm despite not being connected to it (it's just a metal box), and is somehow able to open the door when Murphy approaches. If anyone can explain why any of this rigmarole is necessary over "blow up when the engine starts", let me know.
    • Triggering the alarm and at least unlocking the door if not opening it could be done by radio signal. There's already cars around today with enough computer control and remote access for that. The rest, I have no idea.
    • A related question came to my mind: If the bomb was supposed to work like that, how would the people planting the bomb know that Murphy's wife wouldn't go check on the car?
    • Presumably the delay was to obfuscate just when the bomb was planted. If it went off at the hospital, the first place anyone would start looking for evidence would be at the hospital—and they'd notice that the cameras went off at a certain time, and then they'd start looking at who was in the area. It's also possible that someone was watching Murphy's place and set it off manually when they saw, possibly through the CCTV cameras, that it was him at the car.
    • Murphy opened the car door himself with the remote on his keychain. You can see him point it at the car and press the button before the door opens.

     The robots are only as unbiased and incorruptible as the programmers and their bosses 
  • OmniCorp surely can't have their products turned against them and those who they do business with (e.g criminals, politicians), can they? Robocop's "Priority" on solving cases is a subtle example; its true purpose is to keep him away from cases that might damage OmniCorp's interests. This stand point is, astonishingly, never even mentioned in the whole movie. Senator Dreyfus, in what little screen time he has to oppose mechanized crime control, keeps blabbering about the "human factor" and whatnot, while ignoring this obvious flaw.
    • Well, consider that in this continuity, Omni is a lot cleaner than OCP was in the original. Dick Jones' goals were A) turn Detroit into an even worse hellhole by any means necessary (which included paying off a sociopathic gang leader) so the company could buy the city cheap, screwing everybody in the process, and B) selling to the government a highly defective military product. Sellars only became a card-carrying villain towards the end of the movie, and his initial goals were to simply sell a good, efficient product to the government. He doesn't even have any contact with Antoine Vallon. Seeing that OmniCorp finances an expensive research on advanced prosthetics, odds are they are villains with good publicity, so if a Senator suddenly put in question their motives and suggested stuff like that without any base, it would be damaging to his argument.
    • Also it's kind of the point: unbiased robots controlled by highly biased creators is an allegory for lawmakers exempting themselves from the rules they create.

     All the other organs 
  • Why not keep Alex's other organs? They seemed to be intact after the bomb and this would simplify his care requirements significantly, allowing his to eat normal food and making the nightly blood transfer unnecessary. Just chuck in a couple of waste bags and change those nightly.
    • If you think about it, it's effectively another leash they have on Murphy. The old Robocop was more or less autonomous and could wander off to do his own thing for extended lengths of time. This version of Murphy has to return every night for his blood cleanup and nutrient dose, or he will die.

     Why not clue him in? 
  • Rather than have the computer take over "and he won't know the difference" why not tell Murphy about this aspect and that they can reverse it if it doesn't work out? He's already aware he's half machine anyway. Heck, he's not at all surprised when they upload the whole police database into his brain - 'cause he knows there's computers in there and some back-and-forth.
    • Because that would piss him off. Remember his reaction when he found out he was a cyborg? He freaked out. What do you think would happen if he realized that he was being flat out mind controlled?
    • It depends on how they phrase it. Of course he'd freak at being told he's being mind controlled, but selling it as a reflex booster package or something similar... (which isn't that far from the truth)
    • That's probably exactly what they told him. After all, Murphy isn't a moron, he'd realize pretty quickly that he was reacting faster, and differently, after the "upgrade" than before. If he asked about it, they probably told him something about a different software interface and faster data collating or some such to wave away his concerns.

     disproportionate force 
  • Why did the EM-209 gun down the Iranian kid in the opening for holding a knife? Why would the programmers consider a knife to be a threat to a robot?
    • 'Threats' in this case are dangers to its human controllers and the red assets. It also highlights why robots are not always the best way to handle situations like that.
    • It could have thought the knife was a 'Threat' to other people.
    • Much like the original ED-209, these robots are military hardware, literally tanks with legs, employed to police civilians. It's possible that it's programming didn't include a way for the robot to assess that a knife holds a different kind of threat than of a gun or a bomb, simply because it wasn't meant to ever go against non-combatants, and Omni simply doesn't care .

  • If the reason that the US doesn't want police robots is because they use guns, why not just give them all the taser gun that Murphy has? That seemed to work just fine when it came to incapacitating people without killing them.
    • Tasers have killed people in real life, and so have blanks for that matter- So a bullet that slams into someone and then shocks them has two ways it could kill someone.
      • "Non-lethal" has become a bit of a misnomer in many such weapons in real life; the term now is "less lethal" reflecting the fact that it's not perfectly nonlethal. It still has a far less chance of lethality than a bullet, however.
    • It's not just that they have guns. It's that people are concerned that robots can't really examine what force is reasonable in a given situation, and may use excessive force because their programming operates on very rigid logic, rather than emotional judgement. And let's face it, a military robot doesn't need a gun to kill someone, if that's what its programming dictates it do in a given situation. The whole point behind the Robocop project was that there would be a human element to the decision-making process (which didn't make it out of the first prototype stage, but that's part of the point), alleviating people's fears about mechanized officers, and paving the way for actual robotic police officers in American cities.

     Robocop vs Robot performance 
  • Why do Maddox and the CEO make such a huge deal about Murphy's performance times being slightly lower than the robot in the same situation? Those robots are illegal to deploy within the USA, so from a market perspective this comparison is a moot point. Omnicorp is not trying to sell Robocop based on the performance, but the human element. As Robocop is intended to help sell the idea of robotic law enforcement and bring about the legalization of autonomous drones and robots within the States, leaving Robocop's performance as is could even be a good marketing ploy: "See how much good Robocop has done? Well, we can do even better with pure robots!"
    • They want to prove how much better their robots would be to human police. If Murphy performs only slightly better than a human cop, the government might not be as into the idea of buying into such impressive tech for a marginally small difference. Proving how much radically better Murphy is would push the swap that much better.
    • Also most of what they're harping on is reaction time, not performance. It's true that the robot makes decisions faster that Murphy, but Murphy ultimately is making much better decisions, prioritizing human life over speedy resolution. It shows how out of touch the executives in charge of the project are with people.
    • Sellars himself says "I don't know how to sell 'okay.'" He wants a specific level of performance for his product, whether that's what would actually be best in that situation or not, and refuses to move forward until what he perceives as a problem is solved. It's part of the point of the movie, what the big corporations think the people want as opposed to what they actually want. Later, when reviewing focus-group tested designs for Murphy's release, Sellars himself says "Nine time out of ten, people don't know what they want until you give it to them." While he may have a point, it's also very revealing of modern corporate strategy: "This is what we'll do, and the people will like it, and if they don't too bad because we're the only game in town."
    • When Dr. Norton shows Sellars the compiled performance data, the robot scored a 98.4% efficency in the simulations, whereas Murphy only had 23.5%, so the difference wasn't just slight.
      • Those efficiency scores seemed nonsensical, though. Murphy did everything right, shot everyone who needed to be shot, and saved the hostages, taking only a couple more seconds to do it than a combat robot. That's still 100% efficiency.
    • Mattox himself very obviously does not like Robocop and hasn't liked him from the start, probably seeing him as an adulteration of Mattox's machines. He wants to prove that a man-machine hybrid can't be better than his robots, and he knows how to hit Sellars in his pride in hopes of supporting his point.
    • Most countries in the world are already using fully-robotic police. OmniCorp doesn't want Robocop to be better than their current product line; if he was, it wouldn't make the US accept robots: it'd potentially make their existing customer-nations reject them because of debacles like the one in Iran. Of course the numbers OmniCorp's tests come up with are going to make Murphy's performance look worse than it was.

     Omnicorp Security 
  • There are a couple headscratchers in the film about the OC security for me:
    • They try to kill Dr. Norton for refusing to obey orders and subsequently entering Murphy's "home base" room — as soon as Norton hits the door switch, they try to kill him on the spot. While I understand that they're being sent to kill Robocop, which in itself is probably testament to their moral character, they at least had the legal argument that they were being sent to destroy property and not a person. They have no similar excuse for Dr. Norton: his fleeing from them in order to try to save Robocop is definitely not justifiable use of lethal force. No matter how they tried to spin that, executing the head of OC's wetwire research team would ruin their own careers and probably blow the whole thing open for the rest of the company too — falsifying the kind of evidence necessary to pin the crime on Norton would probably be impossible.
    • Later on, they actually place the SWAT team under arrest for... what? Trespass? The SWAT is in full uniform and responding to a crime in progress. There is literally a firefight going on that the SWAT is trying to put a stop to — for all the OC security know, they were sent to try to arrest Murphy in the first place. While the Security are backed by force, namely their Enforcement Drones, they otherwise have no legs to stand on and trying to arrest the SWAT would just land them all in jail on obstruction charges. (The line "You have no authorisation to be here!" was just silly, since they're standing in a room full of bullet holes that gives them that authorisation.) What exactly did they intend to do, kill four uniformed police officers? The door guards and the parkade/service-mall tunnel guards were played fairly accurately, but the ones who arrested the SWAT guys just didn't make any sense.

     Why not just use remote-controlled drones? 
  • The entire motivation behind developing this incarnation of Robocop was that the existing autonomous robots lacked human conscience and therefore couldn't make moral decisions on civilians' safety and such. While that's a very valid reason, why couldn't they just solve this issue with the same general principle we use with Predator drones today and make those high-tech combat robots remotely controlled (at least partially) by an operator sitting behind a console? They would still be physically the same robots with the exact same equipment, but the decision to open fire would actually belong to a human being who thinks like a human and makes human-like decisions (that's also the exact reason why today's flying drones aren't fully autonomous), which was the whole point after all. One could probably argue that a guy sitting comfortably in a room wouldn't have the same motivation to make the right decisions as someone who is physically out there in a danger zone, but this could probably be solved by making the operator fully liable, legally and financially, for all the harm potentially done to civilians (it works for everything else where human safety is concerned), or seeing how this world has a pretty liberal approach to civil rights, they could probably even hook the operator to some sort of electrodes that would mildly shock them for harming civilians, or something like that. Either way, it would be much easier, more practical and more reasonable than permanently fusing a human being into a robotic body they don't even have a full autonomy over and forcing them to live a life of a combat machine 24/7.
    • Signals to drones can potentially be jammed or even hacked. OmniCorp would probably rather be liable for the rare incident where a robot screws up for a few seconds than risk being held accountable for the active subordination of their products to commit who-knows-what malicious acts.
    • Real-world drone strikes kill innumerable civilians, also. Being physically removed from a situation leads to even human operators making "efficient" decisions rather than moral ones, which is what the Senator is arguing against in the first place. (Heck, currently-existing human officers have been leaning toward efficient decisions rather than moral ones, too, but let's not make this political.)