Another day, another Hollywood remake. It almost never ends well, with remakes like “Total Recall” and “Friday the 13th” receiving critical panning. However occasionally a remake is better than the original, such as “Dredd” and “3:10 to Yuma”.
This time around the film being remade is “RoboCop”, the 1987 movie that was well-received due to its over-the-top violence and satire of American society. And how does its remake fare? Well, it is honestly in between pass and fail.
Starring Joel Kinnaman in the titular role, this 2014 adaption is a retelling of the original film about Alex Murphy, a cop who is nearly killed but manages to be saved by being put inside a cyborg’s body. Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson all co-star. Brazilian director José Padilha helms the film.
In a lot of ways, this new version of RoboCop is like “The Amazing Spider-Man” or “Man of Steel”. It is a movie retelling the origins of a character which features some great ideas and lofty ambitions, and while it hits some of them, it falls flat on others.
The strengths of the film are mainly its supporting cast. Keaton is great fun as the sinister CEO of the company that creates RoboCop. Oldman gives it his all as the doctor who tries to get Alex back into the line of duty after his accident. And Samuel L. Jackson has some entertaining monologues as the host of a talk show, which also serves to explain the movie’s plot narrative.
Another strong point is director Padilha’s ability to shoot entertaining PG-13 action scenes. Yes, in an effort to put more butts in chairs this RoboCop is PG-13 and not hard R like the original. But the styles of violence that are used, such as seeing a lot of the gunfights through RoboCop’s helmet vision, makes us see a high body count without all that close-up, shaky cam that normally accompanies a PG-13 film.
The film’s largest problem lies with RoboCop himself, Joel Kinnaman. It is not that Kinnaman is a bad actor I just believe he is horribly miscast here. His performance is, for lack of a better word, robotic. Even before his accident he shows no emotion or real likable traits, so when he becomes almost all robot and is struggling to regain his human emotional side, we don’t know or care if he succeeds. Unless Kinnaman gets some coaching from Peter Weller, the original RoboCop, this could spell huge trouble if the filmmakers want to make this into a new franchise.
The film’s climax is also somewhat rushed, as there are no real stakes until the very last minute. If there was a better villain or a tighter script, then this really may have been able to be one of those films that were able to brag that it was better than the original. Instead, it falls into generic PG-13 action film territory; but that doesn’t mean the film isn’t worth your time.
People who were alive at the time of the original may get a kick out of seeing how 27 years and $100 million can change a movie, and teenage boys will like seeing robots punch and shoot things. The RoboCop remake is nowhere near as bad as it could have been, but it also is not as much fun as it should have been.
Critics Rating: 6/10