********WARNING, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS********
This week I watched the new Robocop remake from 2014, directed by José Padilha. It’s a remake of the 1987 CLASSIC of the same name and stars Joel Kinnaman in the title role, with Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jackie Earle Haley. This review will not be a bellyaching, crybaby parable about how the original flick was perfect and there was no need for a remake. Let’s be realistic, people. Hollywood is a remake and sequel factory now. We all hafta get used to the fact that movies we loved that came out years ago are going to be redone to varying degrees of success and scorn (Can’t wait for ‘Citizen Kane’ starring the Biebs). No one’s raping your childhood, no one’s doing this to ruin the movies that came before. They are doing this for money, and that is the American way. Get used to it.
With that outta the way, this new Robocop is a slickly made, forgettable, loud affair. The plot mirrors the original film - Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is a cop gunned down by criminals and reanimated as Robocop, Detroit’s last hope for justice.
Kinnaman is cast perfectly as the robotic supercop. He’s a fine Swedish actor you may recognize as the best part of the increasingly frustrating and implausible program “The Killing”. And the updated Robocop suit actually looks quite cool in the original silver and blue model.
But there are a myriad of problems with this film. The supporting cast is fucking USELESS. There was no reason to cast brilliant, Academy Award nominated actors such as Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jackie Earle Haley. They do next to nothing in this film, and Jackson, playing some sort of television talking head with a political show, is one of the most annoying film characters mine eyes have ever seen. Just awful.
The villains in this movie are not at all memorable. I have no idea what any of their names were, and I just watched the thing! In the original, Clarence Boddiker and his gang were fucking vile, GREAT cartoonish villains. Goddamn frightening at times. And Dick Jones, the evil OCP executive was spot on. The gang of vermin in this film are all cookie cutter bad guys who aren’t even threatening. Hell, they bump off the boss of the gang with about 45 minutes left, which then forces the script to turn Michael Keaton (up to this point just a normal businessman doing by the book business things) into the main bad guy. For basically no reason at all, Batman all of a sudden wants to kill Robocop. It makes zero sense.
Another issue I had was the over-humanization of Robo. They really add a lot more family crap than is needed. There are like eight scenes of Murphy’s wife crying over him and letting him know his son needs him. WE GET IT. It completely halts the action to a standstill and isn’t really necessary.
One more thing that bugged me; when they upgrade his new suit to the more ‘tactical’ black outfit, it looks like a poor man’s version of Iron Man. He doesn’t look like a robot anymore, he looks like a dude in a suit doing superheroey things. It destroys the illusion of his cyborg body.
Finally, I do hafta compare this film to the original. This one tries to ground itself in reality, explaining the science, the real world implications of a robotic cop, etc., and it’s just boring and pointless. Part of the charm of the original is the fantastical, futuristic world that is presented. There’s no reason to take the 1987 film seriously because it doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s a great action movie, but look closer and you realize it’s a parody of the action genre. It’s a brilliant piece of moviemaking. This new version is filled with special effects, filled with jump cuts of Robo shooting down other evil robots, filled with dull sequences dealing with his family, dealing with doctors, and being sad. It’s no fun. It’s a mishmash of special effects and fake sentiment.
I wouldn’t watch this movie again. It’s a shame to waste Kinnaman in this bland action flick. Hopefully he gets to sink his teeth into a better movie next time around because he’s a real talent.
This movie gets ONE WHIP