In 1987 Robocop was released and it featured ultra violence and a satire on America. I watched it for the first time over ten years after its initial release. Robocop would have been one of my first R18+ movies I had watched. That's my attachment to it. One of my first ever adventures into a ultra-violent film was the original, Robocop. As such my love for the original isn't that of some mega fans whom have been riding the 'it was so ahead of its time' train. None the less however, the announcement of the toned down violence for a PG rating in the states did sound like a bad idea, especially given that was violence was what Robocop was recognized for.
Jose Padilha's re-visioning sticks close to the story of the original. Detective Alex Murphy, (Joel Kinnaman) a good cop with a family ends up blown up one night with thanks to a bomb. The Doctors say the chance of survival is minimal but fortunately it just so happens Raymond Sellars, (Michael Keaton) wants a Cop in a robo-suit. Sellars wants to garner his reputation within the American public to help tear down a bill stopping his products being put on American soil. Budda-bing! Budda-Boom! Robocop!
Upfront I can say that if your looking for a great action movie, Robocop isn't that. None of the action scenes are anything impressive or visually fun. The toned down violence approach also hinders the film: Did Robocop just shoot-shoot that guy or just taser him? The decipherable difference becomes annoying and you will be asking yourself the above question every shoot-out.
Having said all that however, where Robocop fails at any attempt to live up to the prolific violence and heavy packed action of the original, it expands for the better on the satirical elements.
Opening with Samuel L. Jackson's, Pat Novak, and his show 'The Novak Effect' you get a feel for a very bias program that is presumably some kind of weekly or nightly, political chat show. In the opening moment of Robocop you learn of the opposing force to Sellars, Senator Hubert Dreyfus (Zach Grenier) who is almost single handily denying Sellars from being able to place robots onto American ground. Pat Novak is the kind of host who is good - really good - at swaying a point of view to his or the beliefs he is being paid to believe in. Here it is that the Senator is a very bad man, a man who hates American because he is allowing American lives to die while not allowing Sellars and Omnicorp to put robots on the streets. Jackson does a fantastic job with the presenter personality, even making me question my own views on the subject, if I was presented with it. The question that rings through, through all else: Should robots be allowed to pull the trigger and take human live?
Alex Murphy is a family man, he has a Wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) and a Son David (John Paul Rutton.) And attempting to tackles the effects of Alex's new body and how life would go on now were admirable efforts by the filmmakers, the stuff with Son David is good. Though Abbie Cornish's one note, dull performance does hinder the family stuff from ever truly being accessible to the audience.
Apparently desperate to incorporate any attempt at comedy into the film; re-visited lines from the original come of weird and out of place. Jay Baruchel is in for the one comedy guy in a action movie role, with one-liners and a smart-ass attitude to boot. He is excruciatingly annoying and seemingly out of place like the rest of the comedic attempts. Fortunately his marketing character for Omnicop doesn't see a lot of screen time.
Deserving more time on the screen (especially given a lot of wasted scenes with un-needed characters) is Dr. Dennet Norton (Gary Oldman) and any of his scenes with Alex. Dr Norton is sweet and soft with his patients and Alex butt he has a sense of yearning for more in research; his relationship with Sellars a benefit and a peril on his morality.
Robocop is a non-violent remake of a prolifically violent film, this leads to dull action and a questionable shoot-outs. Attempts to expand the psychology, family and political elements make for the more interesting parts. A solid cast leads Robocop in what would have been better suited as a Thriller, not an action attempt. Still Robocop is a decent re-make if your expectations aren't to the level of action or violence of the original.
+ Themes & Satire
+ Pat Novak
- The Action is Dull
- No Violence Hinder Understandably