Thursday, December 2, 2010

Old Man


We only see the Old Man twice in RoboCop. None of the scenes showed him behind the closed doors - if we would only judge Dick Jones by his behavior and presence in the board room scene, he'd be exactly the same as the Old man, sans power. Actually, he would seem even nicer. Much nicer. He feared the Old Man, and let him talk down on him.  That means he knew what kind of power and abilities the Old Man has.

In the first scene, we see the Old Man as someone who holds a huge power and is very stern. Then when Kinney dies he gets manical ...not because someone was just blasted to pieces - he completely shrugged it off and thought only about business that will put him back in the schedule. The only difference between the Old Man and Jones is that Jones feared the Old Man and Old Man had the power.  Jones always felt like a smaller fish. If such powerful and cold man like Jones who had big crime connections feared Old Man, then he obviously knew something the viewers didn't. He didn't get rid of the Old Man like he did with Bob  Morton and he could've easily use Boddicker and become #1 right away instead of sucking up and taking abuse. But he didn't. He never even thought about it even though the fact that the Old Man was still breathing kept him from being #1. So he knew something more. He knew not to screw with the Old Man
In the first movie The Old Man completely shrugs off Kinney's death and thinks only about the business side - his and OCP's position and power. He's untouched by death and violence, showing what a crude, very cold and cruel person he is. 

The second time we see him is briefly in the boardroom again. He punches Jones, cuts himself loose and seems unaffected by Jones who just got blasted away and squashed on the sidewalk below and by what happened. "Just an obstacle out of the way" kind of approach 

One can imagine how he got into this position and how he raised this company into such heights. One can only think what Jones knew about him that made him tremble in his presence and lower his head when meeting his fury, and not even consider taking him out so he can take his place sooner and easier

Jones said: "He's a sweet old man, and he means well". But why would Jones reveal the true nature of Old Man to some rookie that just got into the big league and who's hands aren't even dirty yet? Besides, the audience knows full well that the Old Man is neither sweet nor good and the movie speaks for itself. He means well alright, but for him and OCP.


There's no change in the Old Man's character in R2. Just the expansion. We just seen a lot more of him in Robo 2. The only difference is that we see this cold and cruel man behind the closed doors this time around. And even then it's not like he's a murderer. He's a powerful man behind this mega corporation. and he acts the same in the public as he does in the board room in the first movie - stern and stoic.
Wiping out of mayor and others wasn't even his idea, it was suggested to him and even then he hesitated and looked at Holzgang (his lawyer) in search for more options. If Mayor would get his payment, OCP's stock would fall and the entire empire would crumble! EVERYTHING was at stake for him.

It's very likely that it was the first time that the Old Man decided to go as far as killing someone because of his obvious hesitation and reluctance and Faxx' repeating line, "As I said sir, it all depends how far are we willing to go". That decision took some doing because hesitated yet gain for a long while, even sat back in his chair and stared blankly into space.

That heavily implies that it must have been the first time, especially considering the situation and that the entire OCP depended on it

Dan O'Herlihy interview Starbust 1990


The Old Man is absent and replaced in R3, and we never get an explanation of what happened to him , despite an open ending of the previous movie (also, Dan O'Herlihy expressed an interest in reprising the role if R3 would come along saying "Of course! I love that character"). He is replaced by someone referred to as the CEO. He is a much younger man who doesn't seem to be very intelligent and who's being pushed around and manipulated by others. He is more of a comic relief in the movie.

So what happened to the Old Man? He's mentioned in R3 and proudly spoken of, but where was he? Did he died? Was he prosecuted?

One could assume that the RoboCain incident led to his prosecution and that he couldn't get away with it after all, and also that the payments to the families of the victims and all the legal repercussions led to the demise of OCP and the state it was in R3 (greatly falling and partially owned by Kanemitsu).

But that doesn't add up in R3. First of all, the CEO spokes proudly about the Old Man: "But who can put a price tag on a dream? Our esteemed former chairman had a dream. He called it Delta City!".

Esteemed means having an illustrious reputation, being respected. He wouldn't be if they would be talking about a corrupted prosecuted criminal. There seemed to be a hint that the Old Man was removed from his chair, that he became expendable, but it could also be interpreted that it was something the old man used to say.

In the first drafts of Frank Miller's script for RoboCop 2 we find out what happens to OCP after the RoboCop 2 incident, as ALL of the executive board resigned in light of a senate-sanctioned exploration of the company's workings, and thus now we know what happened to the Old Man - he bailed out


  1. It's too bad that we never found out the real name of the owner of the company.

  2. Billionaire CEOs, business moguls, and individuals within the position of vast power have all been screened throughout history as displaying the sort of evident traits (that) of traditional nihilistic sociopaths. -Donald Trump has even somewhat admitted it goes with the territory of business (ruthlessness).

    The 'Old Man' took an even darker turn in RoboCop 2; in which I almost assumed that the 'Old Man' at point himself (within instance) had a "Bob Morton" situation of his own doing, which is why Dick Jones didn't cross the 'fence'.

  3. Great essay. I absolutely loved the Old Man in the three movies with the first two illustrating what I think is merely a difference of size not kind in terms of ruthlessness. The Old Man is smart enough not to overplay his hand like Dick Jones and thus comes out of events smelling like a rose.