Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
One second… give me a couple of hours to watch the original 'RoboCop' and I'll be right back to talk about this remake.  Enjoy the music on the line while you wait. 

Good… that's done.  I just wanted to revisit the classic 'Robocop - 1987', The Director's Cut no less, to get a feel for the new movie, which as it so happened I enjoyed.  Kind of.  'Robocop - 2014' is not a better movie, but the creators of this new film took one of the more interesting approaches to the reboot I've seen, to a debatable degree of success.

Chances are you know 2028 Detroit Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman).  Hardcore cop, doesn't play by the rules?  That guy.  Murphy and his partner Lewis (Michael K. Williams) have been relentlessly investigating ruthless gun runner Anton Vallon (Patrick Garrow) with little to show for their trouble except empty hands.  Mainly due to the corruption on the Detroit Police Force.  Regardless, Vallon has had enough and Murphy needs to be dealt with, harshly and swiftly.

Now say hello to OminCorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) who has deployed a crapload of his super robots all over the world to police the unruly peoples, but the Stinking Liberals in Congress won't allow unmanned, unfeeling robots to police our own unruly people.  Liberals!  But what if we had a man in a robot?  A man with all the reflexes, fire power and near invulnerability of a machine, but the thought process and decision making of a human.  The Libs couldn't complain about that could they?  All they need is a relatively emotional stable, dedicated police officer who may recently have gotten messed up really, really bad.

Luck has shined on OmniCorp as a candidate for this potential program has recently become available.  Alex's lovely wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) has reluctantly signed the release form and now brilliant Cyborg physicist Dr. Norton (Gary Oldman) can get to work on RoboCop, and changing the face of American Law Enforcement.
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As you might imagine, it was tough for Murphy to start, having a body that consists of a head, some lungs, a right arm and a bunch of cybernetics, but eventually he comes around to the inevitability of his new life.  Some tweaking still needs to be done since Murphy, his brain, and his emotions are not completely vibing with the new system, but now Detroit has a brand new functional Robotic cop, and he is so good at his job that it looks like Sellars might be able to get that pinko anti-robot bill repealed.  Unless, you know, something goes wrong.  Like Robocop trying to solve his own murder or shooting up a lot people dead, even if they deserve it.  Or something like having to put Robocop down if he threatens the corporate bottom line.  We can't have Robo doing that.

I don't think that there's a lot of people, at least people who spent considerable time in the 1980's who heard about a remake to Paul Verhoeven's 'Robocop' and said 'Yay!' Particularly after hearing that this Robocop would be a relatively bloodless, profanity free, PG-13 outing.  Who would want to see that?   Well, my hats to director Jose Padilha as he has made a movie which is completely different from that 1987 classic, updated to reflect the times that we are living in now, but also retains just enough fragments of the original, featuring a few subtle nods here and there, which separates the two films and really makes comparing them very difficult.  Not that this is going to stop us from doing it.

There are the similarities as we start off with our daily news, a man in Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson) who doesn't really give us news but, like we are used to today, he more of is a rightwing whackjob pundit with a TV show.  Think Sean Hannity, Glen Beck and Bill Curtis turned up to a level of 11.  Where the original attacked corporate greed, a warped media and crime in a very satirical, almost cartoonish style, including the violence, this movie confronts the same issues much more seriously.  Maybe too seriously? 

More effort was put in, this time around, in attempting to develop the man in the robot suit, and now he has to attempt to balance a relationship with his family, despite his issues.  Early on, all of this works fine.  I liked that Murphy had a wife he loved and a relationship with his son, as it did give the character more depth, but there were sacrifices made to that end.  This is a movie really lacks a central main villain.  The character of Vallon  and a couple of dirty cops might've been bad dudes, but they were almost an afterthought, something that had to happen in order for Murphy to become Robocop, and then dealt with accordingly.  I imagine the real bad dude was Michael Keaton's Sellars, but was he really a bad guy?  At the end of the day this cat was just trying to maximize profit for his company, and he didn't do anything in particular out of malice, just with an eye on the bottom line.   My point being that while I recognized that what he was doing was wrong, I didn't feel any real sense that he was an issue that needed to be handled with extreme prejudice.  Just a couple of years in a federal prison maybe. 

The action sequences were hit and miss, some of them kind of cool, like Robo's final training sequence against a platoon of robots, but most of them moved to fast and employed such quick cut camera techniques that it made it somewhat difficult to see what was going on. 

All that being said, I was entertained by the reboot of 'Robocop'.  It can't compare to the original, at least not favorably, but really… what can?  Standing on its own, despite it's over seriousness and suspect action, it adds enough new while retaining some of the old… I'll Buy that for a Dollar… to keep us invested for a couple of hours.  A sequel?  Even that didn't work out all that well for the original, so we can only hope it ends here.
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