If we all recycled refuse to the level that Hollywood recycles movie ideas the Earth would be a far cleaner place. Last Sunday I finally got round to watching Robocop, a 2014 remake of Paul Verhoeven’s eighties classic. Set in the year 2028, Robocop takes place in a world were OmniCorp manufactured automatons serve as peacekeepers in war torn regions. Hoping to capitalize on the lucrative US law enforcement market, OmniCorp chief executive Raymond Sellars proposes using his company’s mechanical soldiers to replace flesh and blood cops on the beat. His plans are rejected however by senators who don’t like the idea of machines dispensing justice. Politicians don’t trust computers, which is why I don’t expect self-driving cars to get approved anytime soon. Never mind that KITT can navigate roads far better than your average female driver.
Loopholes are a wonderful thing and corporations love exploiting them (just ask Starbucks who avoid paying tax via creative accounting.) When OmniCorp is banned from making a robotic police officer they settle for the next best thing – a cyborg. Detective Alex Murphy becomes the titular Robocop after his body is blown to smithereens by a concealed explosive. Alex’s flesh body is replaced with an artificial one, clad in black armour. That should confuse the Black Lives Matter mobs. We can’t attack this pig – look at his metal skin, he is one of us! Anyways, the reborn detective sets off to apprehend the evildoers who maimed him. In between all that OmniCorp tries using chemistry to turn Robocop into a mindless puppet and Murphy tries readjusting to married life, despite the handicap of no longer possessing a schlong.
Although I can commend Robocop’s trio of writers for adding depth to what could have been a straightforward revenge flick, the movie’s marital moments didn’t work for me. Joel Kinnaman (Alex Murphy) has zero chemistry with his onscreen bride, played by the sexy Abbie Cornish (I wouldn’t mind eating out that Cornish Pasty if you know what I mean.) When compared to the original Robocop this 2014 reimagining also suffers in the action department, due in part to its tamer age rating. I have to wonder how Robocop 2014 would have looked had it been filmed after Deadpool came out and proved to studios that R rated movies can be profitable. Robocop’s gunfight scenes are “shot” well enough (no pun intended) but they lack the visceral gore that made its predecessor so much fun to watch.
My rating for Robocop is three stars. Judged on its own merits the movie is quite entertaining. The problem with remakes however is that they inevitably get compared to the original. Fans of the eighties Robocop will argue that there is little reason to watch this reboot, as the first film is vastly superior. Not only is the absence of blood splatter noticeable, but the franchise’s trademark satirical humour has gone AWOL too. This new Robocop treats itself far too seriously, although Samuel L. Jackson does manage to add some levity to proceedings. The hater of serpents on aircrafts plays the role of a biased news anchor named Pat Novak. His portrayal of the character pokes fun at how partial modern media stations can be. The Novak Element vignettes were eerily similar to how some channels reported the recent US election and Brexit.
Despite its failings Robocop isn’t terrible and can claim to be much better than some of the other reboots Hollywood has attempted. I liked how this iteration of the character is more mobile than Peter Weller plodding along in a heavy suit. The movie is also enhanced by some strong performances. Michael Keaton is great as the charismatic CEO who places profit above ethics. The star of the show however has to be Gary Oldman who plays the doctor responsible for developing Murphy’s prosthetics. Throughout the film he is forced to wrestle with his conscience. Should he offer the best treatment possible to his patient or sacrifice him to create an obedient weapon capable of eradicating crime? Who knows, I just hope he can rebuild me into a cyborg too. I’ll need a new body because female readers are likely to murder my ass for that earlier driving remark.