It’s out on video this week, June 5, 2014, but is it worth the purchase?
In the not-too-distant future, Detroit cop Alex Murphy is devastated in the line of duty and made over by corporate conglomerate Omnicorp into Robocop!
This was a really hard movie to wrap my brain around. Like Total Recall, Robocop is a staple sci-fi movie from my childhood – no one got better one-liners than Murphy’s “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me,” in Peter Weller’s unforgettable voice. But because this film is yet another blasted remake of an earlier, and lets face it better, version of Robocop, it has to be able to stand up to criticisms and comparisons. It is inevitable, and you film guys had better be prepared to deal with that. I don’t care that you have Sam Jackson as Pat Novak, professional ranter and purveyor of all things progressive, mainly Omnicorp itself; or Jackie Early Hayley as psycho soldier who wants to take Murphy out Rick Mattox; or hell even Gary Oldman as sympathetic scientist-builder Dr. Dennet Norton, and Michael Keaton as Raymond Sellers, head of Omnicorp. Big names can totally ruin a movie, and there is no guarantee that a bunch of big names will guarantee a film’s success – especially a *gag* remake.
Okay, let’s get into this. So Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a fine Detroit cop with a wife and child. Well that’s new, moving on. The world is going to hell and Omnicorp wants to put robots out there in the field so our soldiers and cops are harmed less in the line of duty. The trouble is, of course, robots simply don’t have that human element, nor can they be programmed with things like instinct or mercy. This is clearly demonstrated in the opening scene, where these newfangled combat robots are being tested on Iranian insurgents, and right there, the film shoots itself in the foot in the opening scenes. At least the first film never went racially specific on the bad guys.
Omnicorp has to bear the brunt of the debacle, so it’s back to the drawing board, while Pat Novak rants on tv about the need for robotic cops and the like. Raymond Sellers really needs to sell the idea of his robots to the world, so he starts vetting cops mortally wounded in the line of duty, and for lack of the perfect test subject, apparently decides to make one. Murphy wasn’t exactly known for discretion and subtlety around the precinct anyway. BOOM!!! And next thing you know, Murphy’s wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) is signing contracts to allow Dr. Norton to turn Murphy into the first Robocop prototype. From there, Murphy has to deal with this new existence, if you want to call it that, his own horror at the situation, and his wife and child, plus clean up the corruption not only in Omnicorp, but in his own police precinct, too! Boy, a cyborg’s work is never done!
There are a few scenes that are new-ish and awesomely epic, but the main visual stunner is of course the reveal of what’s left of Murphy after the explosion. Kinnaman managed to make that scene tug at our heartstrings so hard, I wanted to applaud. Unfortunately that’s the only real epic moment of the film, and that includes Murphy fighting Enforcement Droids later. Well-known one-liners from the first film are sprinkled here and there throughout the film, yes, but rather than as an homage or a parody, they make the film seem desperate to please.
Murphy having a wife and child seriously takes away from the emotional impact that the first film slammed into our heads, where all Murphy had to comfort him was his cop-partner, who was, in fact, female. Yes, the wife and child being taken hostage bit is terrible and unthinkable – it’s also been done into the ground.
And did I mention, this new version is only rated PG-13? For a futuristic dystopia that’s supposed to need things like a Robocop to save the world, a PG-13 rating is an insult, and I don’t want it – Murphy deserved better.
Studio: MGM Studios
Director: Jose Padilha
Review Rating: 7