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--Spoilers ahead:

During the new Robocop movie it is noted that because Humans feel fear, anxiety, and hesitation etc, Alex Murphy was not as fast in combat scenarios compared to his counterpart full robotic droids, regardless of him knowing he is in a bullet proof suit. Basically because robots without a human emotional element do not suffer the same lag drawbacks of a human. Which was the underlying theme of the film, robots = emotionless killers.

So in order for Robocop to become viable, they toned down Alex's emotions. This was explained by the scientist who created Robocop as "Alex is essentially a back seat driver who believes he is in control" while the "API" control software does all the driving.

However,

near the end of the movie, Alex starts to regain control of his emotions and goes off and solves his own murder. Essentially rewriting his robotic API control software. This allowed him to even kill his OmniCorp boss, when the software controlling him starts to shut down due to targeting an OmniCorp high ranking employee.

But he is still somehow still super awesome to go toe to toe with ED robots and a gang of bad guys.

So question stands, is Robocop still in control or is he a back seat passenger with emotions to override his directives?

  • The point of the movie is to get you to ask that question, so I'm not sure you're going to find a definitive answer. It's up to you to answer for yourself. "Does Alex control his software, or does the software control Alex?" is a bit of a metaphor for questions about the militarization of technology- are we in control of our drones, or are they in control of us? The whole point of the movie is to get you thinking about this stuff. It purposely doesn't give you a definitive answer. – Kevin Workman Apr 14 '16 at 13:25
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They didn't really expand on it a lot other than the scenes you mention, but I got the feeling it was basically just like the original - Murphy is ultimately in control himself, but that control is limited by the programming. As with the original two movies, Murphy could not "override" the programming specifically, but once removed as an obstacle he could do what he wanted.

Examples are (spoilers, but c'mon - these movies are over 20 years old):

  • In the original RoboCop, Murphy could not act against Dick Jones until he was fired from OCP by the Old Man.
  • In RoboCop 2, Murphy could not override the gazillion directives put in by OCP, but he COULD act independently enough to fry his circuitry and successfully erase the directives. After that, he was basically Alex Murphy in the RoboCop body.

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