At first glance, RoboCop (2014) is a remake of the original, but in reality it bisects the drug war story in the 1987 version and goes right for a morality argument.
When movie executives get their grubby little hands on a cult classic like the original RoboCop, there is little anyone can do about it. Once the idea is planted for a remake, it’s a done deal and so audiences can thank Sony MGM and Columbia pictures for 2014’s RoboCop.
With any remake, the film is going to have a bigger budget. Surprisingly though, that does not necessarily mean more fight scenes an bigger explosions. The movie instead looks at the narrative from a different angle, the moral implications of the blending between robotic and humanity to combat warfare and the blending of corporations in politics.
In the 2014 version of RoboCop, Murphy is not the first robot integrated into the police force. The robotic implementation to combat crime is shown on more of a global scale: as peace keepers in Tehran and as cutting edge prosthetic providing musicians the ability to play again. The problem is that the population does not trust the machines so OmniCorp decides hybridize machine and human to increase acceptance of their product. Further RoboCop as a movie delves deeper into Alex Murphy’s life and the emotional and familial ramifications of being turned into a corporate killing machine.
Audiences should try to clear their mind of the original before watching the modern version of RoboCop. The Detroit we see is not nearly as permeated by a dystopic and crime-ridden society as the original, though crime is a problem. If the film had simply had been a remake, albeit a good one, in a few months the film definitely would have been swiftly forgotten. In an effort to be remembered the filmmakers try to have the film be more of an analytical argument, similar to that for cloning. After 30 minutes of the film, Alex Murphy has only just undergone the robotic transformation at OmniCorp and after an hour Murphy is only just introduced into the Detroit PD. During this time the movie brings up compelling and thought provoking questions about the illusion of free will, propaganda sold by the media but paid for by corporations, etcetera. Unfortunately, RoboCop is poorly paced for this deep thought within the context of the film and it is far too easy to just zone out and miss this part. As an original idea I find the screenplay premise written by Michael Miner and Edward Neumeier, interestingly the same screenwriters for the 1987 film, intriguing enough but not under the guise of “RoboCop.”
Most of RoboCop is a plebeian effort at filmmaking and a basic exhibition story-telling by Jose Padilha. Samuel L. Jackson plays news reporter Pat Novak who is a narrator device for the film, which is lazy and unforgivably the only way the plot progresses. We see the relationship between Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) and his wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) and we are told of their love, but the acting leaves much to be desired with no innate chemistry or connection inherently transcending the screen. Further Kinnaman’s accent is laughably atrocious as a police officer and promptly disappears once he becomes RoboCop.
Though the CGI and effects in RoboCop are creepy and fantastic, there really isn’t much of anything that can make it anything but average. At least RoboCop tries to have a new and decisive perspective for the remake. But the intent of the film and its overall message is unsteady, so movie falls incredible short of its profound intent.
RoboCop (2014) – Review