Hey gang, Valkor here, and I’m back with another film that's being rebooted for present day; as much as I was a fan of the original Oldboy, I wasn’t looking forward to the Spike Lee version remake at all! And while it does have some missteps, it does enough right to make it an unexpected entertaining piece. Now with the new Robocop reboot, I was REALLY looking forward to this remake because we’d get a shinier and faster Robo, plus it‘s being directed by Jose Padilha, who’s film “Elite Squad” was met with much praise. I haven’t seen the film (yet), and I have no doubt of its awesomeness (at least until I see it), however after sitting through this his version of Robocop… I’m left with wanting more. Spoilers!
In this new version of Robocop, it’s the year 2028 and Officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) along with his partner Jack Lewis (Michael K. Williams) are on the verge of a major weapons bust connected with crime kingpin Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow). Murphy and his partner are found out and Lewis is hospitalized after getting gunned down. The next target on the bad guy’s list is Murphy whom they tag an explosive to his car that gets him as he goes to switch off the alarm. Nearly half of his body is destroyed and this comes as good news to Omnicorp led by Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton); the company has been using robot drones and ED-209s in volatile areas on the planet, keeping a lid on terrorism. However, here in the states they can barely get off the ground. Congress has passed a bill lead by Senator Hubert Dreyfuss (Zach Grenier), banning the use of drones on American soil, with the crossfire between Omnicorp and congress playing out through a television newscast hosted by Pete Novak (Samuel Jackson – Oldboy, The Samaritan). Why the ban? Because robots don’t have a conscience when it comes to dealing with softer situations.
And that’s where Murphy’s plight comes in; retrofitted with the latest in robotic prosthetics and metallic body armor, he’s a one man wrecking machine and just the face Omnicorp needs to get the American people on their side in allowing drones and cybernetic cops on the streets – plus they’ll make billions in the process. The procedure was created by Dr. Bennett Norton (Gary Oldman), who along with his crew attempt to help Murphy adjust to his new "situation", but the human side always prevails. However Bennett tries a few unorthodox methods to balance things out – first, when in action, Murphy’s AI takes over so there’s no hesitation during conflict. And the second is to lower his emotional level so he can handle the incoming surge of criminal data being downloaded into his brain. This appears to work but eventually the human side brings things back to order and in doing so, Murphy realizes there’s one more crime that needs to be solved – his own murder.
Robocop 2014 takes a more disturbing but humanizing road than the original; disturbing in that we actually get to see what little they used to turn him into Robocop; and the more human side comes into play as we follow along with Murphy as he comes to grips with his new predicament, faces his family for the first time and how he handles losing then regaining his emotions, with some conspiracy tossed in. For a film that’s about 117 minutes long, there’s an awful like to take in. The question is, is it worth trying to keep up with it? And is it better than the first two films (yes I’m one of the few who is a fan of Robocop 2, but Robocop 3 can suck it).
First up, the story of Robocop as it pertains to this film is on point; yes it’s all over the place, but the main story – the plight of Alex Murphy, is never forgotten. Maybe it’s in your face a bit too much, but you can see the conflict of what he’s going through and what he has to deal with in his expressions and in his eyes. The first time he saw… what was left of himself, damn I almost broke down watching him break down. I didn’t think anything could be worse than watching Alex get completely riddled with bullets – I was so wrong! Next up is the action; there’s a nice dose of it and hey, if you’ve never watched the original film, you might really enjoy this new one. He takes on a bunch of robots, some ED-209s and there’s even a gunfight mixed with infrared and night vision (I got a kick out of that scene... at least the fight part). I love the look of the black metal; yes it’s very Dark Knight-esque, but it works especially with the red visor. Plus he has a much sleeker design and the dude is fast and can perform some amazing jumps. The acting is what you would expect and with such an amazing cast onboard, there’s no denying, these guys bring out their best; I've missed Michael Keaton, the dude is a solid actor and in this film he puts on a fine performance. The same goes for Gary Oldman and I’ll even give props to Kinnaman, who is definitely no Peter Weller, but he’s still pretty damn good. And how can anyone hate Sam Jackson in any film? Protip: you can’t! He grabs your attention the moment he speaks and you can’t simply look away. Finally there are huge nods to the first two films strewn throughout this one, some kind of obvious (“I wouldn’t buy that for a dollar”) and some you need to be pay close attention to see; such as the final battle between Murphy and the ED-209s, which reminded me of the final battle between Murphy and Kaine in Robocop 2 – minus all the innocent deaths. Then there’s his first arrest as Robocop, which takes place in a warehouse harkens back to the original when he confronts Clarence Boddiker for the first time in his metallic form. And for extra measure there’s even the original theme. Yes this new Robocop has a lot of good going for it, but at the same time… well there’s...
This new film, came across as “dry” overall; this is not the me who is a fan of the original, this is mainly the me that is a fan of good action films. And while the action in the film was decent, I thought the overall presentation was lacking – there’s just too much going on here! You have to deal with Murphy’s plight, OCP’s dilemma, the crossfire between Novak and the Senator, and then there’s the internal conspiracy within the Detroit police department, which was obvious from the jump who’s really behind it all. It’s just too much and there’s a lot of excess that could have been shaved off to make this story flow a little smoother. Also this new film isn’t gritty enough – plenty dark, but needs more grit to it. I think this could have been achieved if the film hadn’t been stuck with a PG-13 rating. The original was dark, gritty, witty, funny, gory (especially the director’s cut), but this new film… is just meh. Maybe a little too "clean". I mean I liked it, but I’m not in love with it as much as I love the first two films. Next, there’s no “wow” factor when Robocop first enters the police station or even his own home! In the first film, time all but froze when Robocop entered the scene and everyone had to have a closer look at him. In this film he walks in like it’s nothing and people seem to accept him. There ain't no cyborgs walking around Detroit, so why is no one surprised to see this metallic guy walking around? If he had walked in his home and little Daniel Murphy had shouted “yo, what the fuuuuuuck?”, I would have been OK with that. Finally the build up between Murphy and Antoine – lame as fuck! Great fight scene beforehand, but when it’s over it’s just over. I get it, there’s a bigger fish, but the bigger fish was just as lame as these two combatants.
Seeing Murphy without his robo-parts - I just wanted to cry!
Robocop is making the theatrical rounds and from the looks of things, it isn’t doing all that well. It definitely doesn’t hold a candle to the 1987 original film or even the action-packed followup, but it does have some shining moments. But ultimately the film is just a bland action movie with too much going on to be truly entertaining. So out of TOV 5 stars, I give this new Robocop a 2.