When it was announced that RoboCop would be remade, the 1987 movie’s massive and passionate fan base was outraged. “Why remake a masterpiece?” they asked.
Well, don’t get Movie Fanatic wrong, we adore Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop. But, it isn’t a perfect movie and time has shown that it has remained a movie of the 1980s. If it's possible to take the concept of a man put in a machine to fight crime on our nation’s city streets and make it timeless… why not try?
Director Jose Padilha has to be given props for making the effort. RoboCop, circa 2014, is not the greatest movie, but it is pretty darn solid. It even manages to make a few comments on our modern society and where we’re going as a human race in the process.
Joel Kinnaman is Alex Murphy, a Detroit detective, who is close to cracking a case against one of the city’s biggest crime lords. Only, he gets too close and winds up the casualty of a car bomb as his wife (Abbie Cornish) watches in horror.
Meanwhile, OmniCorp -- led by Michael Keaton’s executive and Gary Oldman's scientist -- has been developing robotics that can be applied to humans, mostly with success on war veterans who have lost limbs.
But, the "death" of Detective Murphy has presented a chance for them to put a man -- who is clinging to life -- inside a machine that will keep him alive, and also… create a super-cop the likes of which we’ve never seen.
Padilha’s film does a fantastic job of balancing the questions of societal ethics versus benefits for the greater good -- something that could be expanded to all corners of science today. Murphy is not simply a robotic cop that can identify and bring to justice the hundreds and thousands of criminals that wreak havoc on the city’s streets. In Padilha’s film, he’s a symbol of technology and all that can be right with it... and all that can be wrong.
As we debate the use of drones in carrying out our foreign policy and “justice” abroad, there could be no greater forum for the discussion of that man-less use of force than in the entertainment format that is the motion picture. RoboCop also entertains, don’t get us wrong, but it does so in the context of raising complex questions that do not have easy answers.
Kinnaman is astounding in the role that was originated by Peter Weller in the original. The way he utilizes his face, and in that the lower part of his face, to express all his emotions is nothing short of powerful. He manages to go from robot to human and back to robot within the blink of an eye, all within the same scene.
And Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman show their veteran acting chops and bring a level of gravitas to the film that the first incarnation of this story was lacking. Then there's Samuel L. Jackson, who portrays a Fox News-type anchor, well, as only Sam Jackson can!
Also, the increased role of Cornish’s character from the original is welcome as well. By having her and Murphy’s son so ever present in this movie adds an element of emotion that was not there before. There’s a family attached to the heart of that man inside the machine. I don’t think we ever got that from RoboCop 1987.
Yes, many of our favorite RoboCop quotes are in the movie, but our RoboCop review finds that this film explores a way more meaningful path.
Intrigued? Check out this slideshow of the ever-teasing nature of the campaign to bring us an updated Alex Murphy story, told through these RoboCop trailers.