Monday, February 10, 2014
Hollywood is either out of ideas or they just feel like they can do better at everything that has come before. Sometimes this is true, but in most cases the remake fails in comparison. We are now served up a helping of Robocop. A very violent, cheesy, yet cult favorite action flick. This time, the big, awkwardly moving, machine with a conscience gets revamped for a modern audience.
Much of the basic story is the same. Evil corporation, crime plagued Detroit, and an honest cop in the middle. Alex Murphy is our hero played this time by Joel Kinnaman (The Killing.) He and his partner Jack Lewis (Michael K. Williams) are on the trail of arms dealers and the bust goes very wrong. Omni Corp, led by Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), is a company who wants to put robots on the streets to save lives. The U.S. Government will not allow it and the company is bleeding billions. A marketing plan is put into place to put a machine with a conscience on the streets. When family man and honest cop (Murphy) is wounded, he becomes the candidate to be rebuilt into Robocop. Murphy's wife (Abbie Cornish) gives Omnicorp and Dr Norton (Gary Oldman) permission to save Alex and make him into a corporate weapon. He learns to use his new hardware, but struggles with the lasting impact it will have on his son and wife. Murphy will need to battle his programming, the corrupt system, the company that built him, and the heartless Maddox (Jackie Earl Haley) to save his family and his soul.
The violence is toned down. The original is one of the most violent movies of all time. Kinnaman is good Alex Murphy and looks more comfortable than his predecessor, Peter Weller did. The original painted a very horrific picture of Detroit. In the original, crime ruled the streets and this time around it's not quite as obvious.
I did miss Clarence Boddiker and his gang from the original. Jackie Earl Haley is the closest fans of the original we get, but it is a pale comparison. It's not that Haley is bad, but more that this is a different kind of Robocop. In the original, the criminals were the bad guys. This time it's hard to tell the difference between the cops and criminals and it some ways, it's a closer picture to today's reality.
Political undertones are still present, but this time we get Samuel L. Jackson as a extremely left wing talk show host. This Robocop exists in a world much closer to ours. Media influencing politics and people believing everything they see. Jackson looks like he had fun, but he's really not needed. I think he is more a nod to what came in the original.
I was a little let down by Michael Keaton. He is a great villain and a fantastic actor. He doesn't always get the credit he deserves. He is good a psychotic. Watch Pacific Heights and you will see what I mean. He looks like he never really found his way into his character. I would've loved to see him and Gary Oldman reverse roles. Fans of the original will definitely miss Dick Jones. Murphy's partner is no longer female in this version, but I understand their reasoning for the change. The original focused more on his relationship with Lewis than is wife and this one goes in the opposite direction.
This Robocop has a couple of things the original didn't have. Better effects for sure, but in my opinion it has more heart. The center of the story is a man who is afraid of what he has become. A wife that has condemned him to a life as a machine and a son that is caught up in the middle of it. It's got a doctor struggling with morals and what he's created. It's not as violent as the original and some will be disappointed in the simplicity of the fight scenes. It's not as campy. It will not be a cult favorite. The black armor isn't bad, but the silver is present. It makes nods to the original, but tries to go in another direction. We didn't ask for this, but we might have actually got a better Robocop.