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'RoboCop' remake opens Wednesday - and, yes, it's still set in Detroit

February 9, 2014

Twenty-seven years ago, the depiction of Detroit as a dystopian wasteland in "RoboCop" felt like a cheap shot to some local residents. "That was an era when Detroit was being used particularly as an illustration of everything that could go wrong," recalls Jerry Herron, dean of Wayne State University's Irvin D. Reid Honors College. "I remember feeling, as a Detroiter, resentful and also, like, how hard was that to do, take a city that has suffered in the headlines and turn it into a generic site for problems that were, of course, like all of the difficulties Detroit has suffered over the years, American problems." But this isn't your father's "RoboCop," the 1987 science-fiction classic about Detroit policeman Alex Murphy's transformation into a justice machine. This is the remake that opens Wednesday. And before the action moves to the Motor City, it opens with a news report from Tehran, Iran, one of the foreign hot spots where robot drones are replacing American soldiers. The new "RoboCop" also taps into contemporary worries about technology and privacy. "It's one thing to send drones someplace else or to send robots someplace else, but what happens when those practices begin to come back here, like the surveillance of e-mails and the surveillance of iPhone messages?" says Herron, who hasn't seen the movie.