Henchman of the Week (4/13/01): Emil Antonowsky
Featured In: RoboCop (1987)
Degree in: Economics
Demeanor: Damn cheerful
Preferred MS Office Assistant: The dancing paperclip
Termination: Mutated by toxic waste, then splattered and decapitated by boss's car. The usual.
Temporary Assignment: Tune in to this website every day, and what do you see? A lot of bitching and griping about temp jobs. But there are temps out there who like their jobs. Love them, even. They're positive, energetic, vocal, and they really seem to be enjoying themselves. Take Emil Antonowsky, for instance.
Emil is henching for Clarence Boddiker, crime lord of the futuristic dystopia that is Old Detroit. We first see Emil after he has participated in some sort of heist, driving the getaway truck while being tailed by a couple of pesky cops. Realizing he can't outrun the fuzz, Emil asks his boss for input, and Clarence tells him to slow down. Emil says, "What are you crazy, man?" and Clarence unleashes a stream of profanity and begins hitting and kicking him.
There's nothing too odd about this; we sort of get the impression that they have been working together for a while. Over time, a temp and his supervisor may develop sort of a conversational short-hand, in which not every thought needs to be spelled out. For instance, instead of Clarence saying "I am displeased by your suggestion that I may have lost my mind, and I would like you to trust my judgment in this matter," he simply kicks Emil in the arm.
Later, at their hideout, Emil can be heard explaining the gang's current business model to another henchman.
"Takes money to make money," Emil says wisely. "We steal money to buy coke, then sell the coke to make even more money. Capital investment, man."
"Yeah, but why bother to make it when we can just steal it?" the other henchman asks.
"No better way to steal money than free enterprise," Emil wryly points out.
It's nice to see henchmen conversing in such a manner, but sadly, a cop named Murphy interrupts, shooting Emil's partner, then threatening Emil by saying "Dead or alive, you're coming with me." Emil mulls over whether he'd rather be alive or dead, something all temps wrestle with on a daily basis, but the decision is made for him as more goons show up, disarming the Murphy (in more ways than one). The gang members laugh and pump the cop full of lead, Clarence puts a bullet in the cop's noggin, and a wonderful time is had by all. It's one of those impromptu parties that are always more enjoyable than planned affairs.
One night, Emil robs a gas station, taunting the clerk, who is a college student, by asking him if he could "outsmart a bullet." Again, he's quite cheery, until an awkward, big-butted robotic cop shows up, and threatens Emil with a familiar: "Dead or alive, you're coming with me."
"I know you," Emil says. "You're dead. We killed you! We killed you!"
He's both right and wrong, for this is RoboCop, a cyborg, metal on the outside, human on the inside (coincidentally, the same human, Murphy, that Emil and his pals pumped bullets into). Emil opens fire, then hops on his motorcycle and zooms off, pausing to set the gas station on fire with a cigarette butt. The slow-moving RoboCop fires a few shots into Emil's bike, sending the henchman careening out of control, into a parked car and then headfirst into the street.
Luckily, Emil's boss Clarence has a boss as well (the org chart for this film is pretty extensive), and a powerful one at that. Emil is released from prison to help hunt down and destroy RoboCop. Boddiker asks him how he enjoyed his stay in prison, and Emil replies "Not bad. They let me keep the shirt. Nobody popped my cherry."
(Kids, if you're reading this, he means no one hit him in the face while he was in jail. "Popped" means "hit", like to "pop" someone in the face. And "cherry" is, uh... what they call "face" in the future. Kay?)
Clarence arms his lackeys with high-powered weapons that fire explosive shells. After testing it out on a local convenience store, Emil declares:
"I LIKE IT!"
(You can hear him say this by clicking here, if I've done it correctly.)
For temps and henchmen alike, perks are few and far between. To witness Emil relishing his new toy with destructive, childlike glee is heartwarming. They head to the steel mill to take care of RoboCop, who gets the drop on them. Emil fires at him, but misses (Robocop is slightly harder to hit than a convenience store).
Emil, driving the van, attempts to run Robocop down, but slams into a vat of fast-acting toxic waste in the process. Hideously deformed, he seeks assistance from one of the other henchmen, but the fellow looks at him as if he were some kind of disfigured toxic freak, which he is. Emil staggers away, now seeking help from boss Clarence, but seeing as how Clarence is in a car traveling at around sixty miles per hour, Emil is simply splattered into goo all over the windshield.
Performance Review: Well, I'll say it again: it's nice to see a temp enjoying his job. It's hard to find a moment in the film where Emil isn't laughing, cracking jokes, or grinning. His only flaw is looking for help from his fellow henchmen and his boss when he is down on his luck. Most co-workers are simply fair-weather friends, it seems. If you're successful, they're more than happy to pal around with you, but if you get a bad review, or a bad reputation, or all your flesh is sloughing off your body from toxic waste, they're considerably less available.
Emil was played by Paul McCrane, a short, bald actor who still manages to be a real tough guy. I can dig that.