Directed: Jose Padilha
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Samuel Jackson and Michael Keaton.
Running: 118 mins
At the hands of greedy Hollywood and lazy ideas, no movie is safe from being thrown into that big pile of remakes that cinemagoers know all too well. It is fair to say that modern directors in most cases, the up and coming, are the most gutsy when it comes to revisiting a cult classic such as Robcop. There are many reasons a director may pick up such a poisoned chalice but the legitimate reason is money. For fans of the original it is quite nonsensical but for the neutral and more importantly the younger demographic it is destined to find, it is clever and ultimately extremely rich. Way before remakes and Gothic robots was a time when director Paul Veroeven challenged James Cameron’s Terminator in 1987. Paul crafted his own futuristic tale of a dystopic Detroit bowing to the presence of a man in a machine who, considering the era and rating of the movie, it wouldn’t hesitate in blowing your head off – the violence was ripe and that is what signified 80′s cinema.
Twenty seven years down the line Jose Padilha directs a Robocop movie that is clearly modernised to suit the criteria of 21st century blockbuster; it’s visually teasing, not very action packed but sticking with the original plot respectively.
The year is 2028 and technological conglomerate Ominicorp is fighting for robotic protection on the streets of Detroit. At the centre of this debate is Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton). Having inherited billions from his military robots overseas, for Raymond, America’s fight against such prospect is a hard pill to swallow. He is hell-bent on altering a machine based authority that citizens can look up to with trust and support. We are consistently reminded of the need for such placement through Pat Novak (Samuel Jackson) who asks the question; “Why is America so Robophobic”? This is supposed to create a giggle or two.
On the other side of the not-so gritty city is our protagonist Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnamen). Murphy is a family man and a respected cop. Unfortunately for Murphy his eagerness to put certain criminals behind bars results in a car bomb which explodes at close range. Shattered and burned to a crisp, the decision of Murphy’s last breath is down to his distraught wife Clara (Abbie Cornish). She is given a life changing decision by Omincorp; seek benefit in society by creating a robotic hero, or let Murphy die a hero’s death. Thanks to Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) Raymond Sellar’s vision for a safer city pays off as Murphy awakens inside robotic armour.
This is a remake with little evidence as to why the city of Detroit is so ridden with scum that it needs such authority. I mean Detroit has never looked so clean. It is weak in its story, lacking any such motive as to why the town needs a saviour. It depends on the monologue from Samuel Jackson’s Pat Novak to keep you informed and to remind you why America needs this and how pro-American his own status is. Pat Novak, like Tom Pope (Jay Bruchel) and the arrogant Rick Mattox (Jackie Earl Haley) are the comedic twist to this drunken CGI fest. For instance Rick, who continues to call Murphy Tinman, plays the Wizard of Oz favourite “If I only had a heart” over a training montage.
Joel Kinnamen as Robocop can do no wrong. The scenes which show him interacting with his family are almost sympathetic. Murphy is aware of his new body from the second he awakens which opens the door for some quality time as Robodad. I cannot help but be appalled as to why Robocop’s suit is black? And what felt more ironic is that a former Batman requested it! We are teased from the beginning with the vintage metal outlook but hey, as a remake is the poison chalice, if you steer too close to the original or too far, you’re criticised. So yes, Robocop’s transformation to gothicbot should be criticised. He looks and moves more like the robotic ninjas from Robocop 3.
The overall movie is lethargic and timid with its characters. This underwhelming story involves more crocodile tears than The Notebook. It bleeds us dry with attempted emotion forgetting the purpose of the franchise; it lacks the action necessary to support its title and very little can be said for Joel Kinneman other than he played a robot. But hey, it is better than Robocop 3
Nitpicking aside, Robocop is entertaining in parts with a little bit of nostalgia. It lacked the necessary action that the original gave us, along with the grit and the memorable villain. I enjoyed the last 15 minutes, not because it ended, but because Robocop finally grows a pair of metal ones!