Review: Robocop (2014)
Back in 1987, Robocop was a new franchise that received great praise while also even being regarded as one of the best films of the year. Since then it has become a cult classic spawning two sequels and even a television series. This of course means that fast forward a few years later, Hollywood would want to remake it to fit today's standards. With the improved special effects and the general love for films with a darker theme, it seems fitting that they would remake Robocop with all of it's political, corruption, authoritarianism, and future dystopian themes. Although it is generally an action film with a thriller feel to it, at the core the general story has plenty of heart while actually having plenty of backbone to it. Now, could the remake capture on all of that?
The plot follows Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) who is a good cop with a loving wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish) and child. Murphy works at a corrupt police station and when he learns of the corruption it ends horribly. An attempt is made on his life due to this sending him to the hospital in critical condition. Meanwhile, a robotics company dedicated to safeguarding America with perfect robots hardwired to protect the public decides that they need a product that America can get behind. Thus, they decide to put a man in a robot suit. Alex Murphy becomes the perfect subject for this with his missing limps and the suit manages to keep him alive. With the suit, he is able to become a hero but not without a cost.
The film started off great with Murphy struggling to deal with being part man and part machine while carrying plenty of emotional weight to it. The script was solid throughout all of it and Joel Kinnaman portrayed the tormented soul really well but once it kicked into the Robocop we remember, the film fell apart while being all too familiar. The plot in fact follows the original so much that it begs the question, was it worth it even making this film. In a time where violence and darker themes are much more wildly accepted, it is surprising to see the remake is less violent then the original while also having much less action sequences in an attempt to truly make a compelling action thriller. However, it fails in that regard and lacks the heart and soul that the original had.
While the film has a weak script, it does have some great actors giving some good performances in their roles. The star of the film has to be Michael Keaton as the CEO of OmniCorp, he exudes confidence and arrogance in the role while hitting all of the right notes. The film is often at it's best when he is on screen. Gary Oldman, as Doctor Dennet Norton, yet again proves that he is one of the most consistent actors in Hollywood with terrific range. The film's best scenes are often between Kinnaman and Oldman as the latter of the two struggles with his own morality. Kinnaman excels in the beginning of the film with the more dramatic scenes but as his character becomes more robotic, purposefully the script calls for him to be a bit stiff, making it hard for the audience to care for him anymore. Jackie Earle Haley is also solid in the role of the Mattox, the military tactician. In hindsight, it is hard to believe that he has not had a starring role of his own to really sink his teeth into since Watchmen. Behind the camera, Jose Padilha does an admirable job. He captures the action sequences really well, especially in the final act, albeit it had a video game feel to it due to how unrealistic it is. The film also benefits from a solid score composed by Pedro Bromfman as he does a good job between the quieter scenes with more emotional weight and the louder scenes with more action. Despite the strong performances and decent direction, the film squanders in the second half and becomes quite a bore forcing you to ask the question, what is the purpose of this remake?