Review – RoboCop

Poster for 2014 sci-fi remake RoboCop

Genre: Sci-Fi
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 7th February 2014
Runtime: 118 minutes
Director: José Padilha
Writer: Joshua Zetumer
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L Jackson
Synopsis: A young police officer becomes the poster boy for a technologically advanced law enforcement service when he is turned into a robotic cyborg.

 

 

There’s always a sense of apprehension around a remake. The fear is amplified when the film being remade is a property beloved by many people. And so, hot on the heels of mass disapproval arrives this modern retread of the 80s social commentary classic RoboCop. Your move, José Padilha.

Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is critically injured by a car bomb after he investigates a major criminal in future Detroit. Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), CEO of OmniCorp, with the help of Dr Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman), decides to use Murphy as a totemic figure to convince the “robophobic” American public that metal law enforcers should be introduced.

RoboCop 2014 is the very definition of an unnecessary remake. The original was uniquely 80s and also the sort of film tailor made for the dark, warped mind of Paul Verhoeven. Unfortunately, dark comedy is completely absent from this bland remake.

| "It’s not personal. I just don’t like you as a person."

Perhaps the most depressing thing about RoboCop is that it isn’t a completely terrible film. It does feel timely, with its references to right-wing media commentators (courtesy of Samuel L Jackson, picking up his cheque) and drones in the Middle East. However, these references are remarkably heavy-handed, practically beating the viewer around the face and informing them they have 5 seconds to comply with the satire.

It feels almost as if the satire is an inorganic attachment to the film – s0mething it had to have to pay homage to the original. RoboCop treats its satire as a distraction from everything else rather than an essential part.

That’s not to say that there is much to distract from. There are occasional action sequences, but they fizzle rather than pop. This has the aura of a film that has had its proverbials chopped off to secure a 12A certificate, which is a more depressing sign of the times than any of the satire.

| "Forget the machines. They want a product with a conscience. Something that knows what it feels like to be human."

Joel Kinnaman is incredibly poor in the leading role, constructing a charisma vacuum that would make even Sam Worthington proud. Jackson phones in and Oldman and Keaton make the best of the material they are given.

Some films just shouldn’t be remade.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Poop!

With its mere premise, RoboCop set itself up for a fall. It was never going to be easy to transform a brash, confrontational, adult movie into a shooty, noisy action romp for the teen audience.

The performances are empty, the script is limp and the satire is more obvious than a flamingo in an elephant herd.

Dead or alive… no, definitely dead.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

2 thoughts on “Review – RoboCop

  • 14/02/2014 at 14:05
    Permalink

    ‘With its mere premise, RoboCop set itself up for a fall. It was never going to be easy to transform a brash, confrontational, adult movie into a shooty, noisy action romp for the teen audience.’

    Could it be that you thought that you were an adult in the 80s?
    This is a timely remake utilising twenty first century technology to revive the aged look and feel of the original. The tone of the movie is not vastly different, a few changes to address younger viewers (12A is indicative of the target audience) that may appear to be less subtle to a freshly cynical POV – but the original was every bit as much in-your-face.

    As for the ‘robotic’ performance of Joel Kinnaman – I rest my case.

    Don’t think that you’ve grown up simply because you are older – if you saw the original the message isn’t for you anyway. If you’ve not got it by now you have some serious reading to catch-up on.

    This is an OK lightweight movie. Unless you spend all your time playing first-person shoot-em-up RPGs.

    Reply
    • 16/02/2014 at 14:07
      Permalink

      I don’t think I have ever claimed to have been an adult in the 80s? In fact, I only watched the original RoboCop very recently. It felt uniquely of its time in such a way that could not be replicated.

      To an extent, the new RoboCop does satisfy that particular aspect (as I said in the review), but it does it in a po-faced way, completely lacking in the entertainment value of the original.

      I never called Kinnaman ‘robotic’. I accused him of lacking charisma, which isn’t something that Peter Weller could be accused of.

      Reply

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