ROBOCOP (2014) : REVIEW

February 12, 2014


"You said you could save him, but what kind of a life will he have?"
Like I oftenly said before, remaking movies became some sort of Hollywood trend nowadays, not minding how highly unnecessary it was to do so. This time, it was Paul Verhoeven's 1987 original Robocop's turn (the second time Verhoeven's movie got a remake after Len Wiseman's 2012 Total Recall). Steered by director José Padilha and screenwriter Joshua Zetumer, Robocop, the remake, got slicker in jet-black suit and glowing visor with sleek motorcycle and advanced $2.7 billion tech. I honestly didn't expect much, mostly because I liked the original one (sooo thrilling) and felt that making a remake of it was a dumb move. So, how was it?

Earth, 2028, was a better and much safer place, thanks to Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton)'s Omnicorp and his drones & ED-208s. Daily inspection were occurred to keep such places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam in control, leaving everybody fearless to enter the (once) dangerous zones. But, those savvy tech soldiers were forbidden to enter the US soil, as Senator Hubert Dreyfuss (Zach Grenier) and the bill named after him told so; because machine couldn't feel anything. Sellars then came up with an idea, to "put a man inside a machine", confusing the hell out of Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman). On the other hand, Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) of Detroit PD was having a hard time chasing after Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow) who had put his partner, Jack Lewis (Michael K. Williams), into a hospital. That, until Vallon planted a bomb in his car, leaving Murphy with 4th degree burn and severe injuries. Then came the red line, as Sellars offered Murphy's wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish) to sign an agreement, foretelling all that was left of Murphy to be altered in to a machine, making him a Robot Cop. Long story short, Murphy quickly gained quite a reputation amongst people of Detroit, delivering many gains to Omnicorp, as he efficiently battling unsolved crimes that no one could. But, there was more to Omnicorp and Sellars that Murphy didn't know, that Sellars somehow limiting his humanity and his access to his wife and son, David (John Paul Ruttan). That, and the unsolved case of his own attempted murder ...

I frowned like hundred times in the entire 118 minutes. Why? First, though Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson)'s "The Novak Element" cynical social commentary might be hell of a laugh, I somehow found it very distracting and  it failed to engage to the wittiness it targetted. Second, the snail pace; it was kinda boring, especially with the lack of punches it had. Third, it was too family-centered. I understand that they tried to deliver a different approach than the original film, but it was lacking of depth, chemistry and empathy, like I couldn't root for and believe it. Four, the poor execution of Murphy's emotion; the struggle between revenge, being under control and trying to get back to his family was too broad and bland. Then it got even more fuzzy by the constant debate and decision making between Sellars, Norton, the lawyer Liz Kline (Jennifer Ehle), and the marketer Tom Pope (Jay Baruchel). Last but not least, the threat itself. Too focusing on the side story, they forgot to sharpen the main threat; was Detroit in danger? Yes? Where? When? I didn't see anything.

I fancied the cast, really. Kinnaman nailed his role; very fragile yet strict in some way, especially remembering he only got his face, hand and pair of lungs left. Keaton was very cunning and somehow villain-y and I liked that he seemed smart. Cornish was rather faithful and annoying but she did her part. Baruchel and Ehle made a good companion to Sellars. Jackie Earle Haley stole the scene as Rick Mattox; he should have gotten more screentime and that "tin man" joke of him, never got old. But, there was only one person that delivered the absolute performance and that was Gary Oldman as Dr. Frankenstein; I found his change of hearts and sympathy rather intriguing and I loved how he calm and understanding he was when it came to Murphy.

Finally said, Robocop wasn't that bad; it was still enjoyable with those advanced (and fun) techs and emotional struggles. I couldn't recommend, decide for yourself.



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