Director: Jose Padilha
Starring: Joel Kinnamen, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson
Release Date (US): 12th February, 2014
Company: Columbia Pictures/MGM
“Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.” – RoboCop
Released this February to a mixture of conflicting expectations and scepticism, RoboCop is a modern reboot of the 1987 cult classic that spawned millions of fans and a few terrible sequels. Helmed by acclaimed Brazilian director, José Padilha (Elite Squad), this action/sci-fi flick stars Joel Kinnamen (The Killing) as Alex Murphy – an honest Detroit cop, left in critical condition following. Saved by OmniCorp, he returns as ‘RoboCop’ – half- man, half-machine, unsure of which side is in control…
While it does lack the satirical bite of the 1987 original, the reboot’s script – written by newcomer Joshua Zetumer – does still manage to ask a few thought-provoking questions about American society. A lot of the desired effect is lost in the execution though, with only Samuel L. Jackson’s (The Avengers) abrasive talk-show host, managing to consistently hit the right tone. However, in the moments it does work, it gives a unique feel to the movie.
A more appropriate criticism would be for the story’s inconsistent nature. Despite opening with a global focus, and touching upon the application of these OmniCorp machines in international conflicts, the movie ends up feeling a little too ‘small scale’. There is no outright villain – just a collection of morally grey figures, while the action isn’t quite up to the standard expected of Padilha . Elsewhere, the script’s increased focus on Murphy’s family doesn’t quite hit the right emotional chord with the audience, despite its intentions.
“What have you done to me?” – Alex Murphy
Perhaps this movie’s greatest strength is in its talented and experienced cast. From Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen) to Jennifer Ehle (Pride & Prejudice), everyone pitches in – but the movie’s strongest performances come from Michael Keaton (Batman) as the dubious head of OmniCorp, Raymond Sellers, Sam Jackson’s fiery Pat Novak and Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight) as the sympathetic Dr. Norton. Oldman is particularly good, turning in a superior performance in-spite of the movie’s light ‘action-fare’ stereotype.
Joel Kinnamen is a little less convincing in the lead role of Murphy. Despite exuding a lot of the rebellious charm he showed on The Killing when playing Alex, his performance suffers when he evolves into the titular role – if only because he has to reign in so much of his charisma. That said, he handles the movie’s emotional core well, showing great chemistry with Oldman in particular in the heavily-dramatic moments. Abbie Cornish (Limitless) also suffers in this movie, thanks to a poorly written role as Murphy’s wife.
Direction & Tone
Director José Padilha raised a lot of eyebrows with his duology of Elite Squad movies, set over in his native Brazil. Unfortunately, the fast-paced action and drama from those films fail to translate into this one – his English-language feature debut. That said, he manages to handle the tone of the movie well enough, and ultimately the movie comes across as far more thought provoking than your average Hollywood action-flick.
- This is one of the many films being brought up in the current Deadpool PG-13 Vs R-Rated debate. A lot of fans bemoaned the lack of violence in this movie – and you have to wonder whether any vital content was watered-down to fit the MPAA age rating…
- I love how the predominant critical assessment for this movie is: “It could have been so much worse.” I really think they should add that to the TV-Spots/DVD Covers.
- Ultimately, the movie ended being a little too serious. At no point was there ever really a: “Your move, creep” moment. Modern day cinema needs more cheesy one-liners. Except The Legend Of Hercules. That whole movie was one big cheesy one-liner.
While it lacks the fun and entertainment factor of the original, the movie still ends up asking a few of the right questions, and features some top supporting performances from the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman.