Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Year: 2014
Director: Jose Padilha
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L Jackson, Abbie Cornish

Plot: A multinational corporation takes the opportunity to create a cyborg cop when police officer Alex Murphy is seriously wounded in an explosion.

Review: I am a huge fan of the original, so I was very skeptical when I saw the trailer to this remake of the 1987 action sci-fi directed by Paul Verhoeven. I didn't think this remake would be as good as the original, and I was right.

To be fair, Jose Padilha does make a conscious attempt to make his version as different from the original as possible. For starters, he and scriptwriter Joshua Zetumer inflate the roles of the scientist that creates Robocop as well as Murphy's wife, and deflate the role of the crime boss that kills Murphy. His approach to Murphy's struggle in regaining his humanity is also different, as well as the world the film is set in, though the timeline of being in the near future is almost similar.

But even with all this, it's pretty clear to me that while Padilha went to great effort to stand out differently, his take is, for lack of a better term, boring.

Padilha spends too much time explaining to the audience how Murphy is to get used to being in a robot body, training to be a more efficient crimefighter, or whether he can go back to being the way he was before etc. He spends a good half of the film doing this, in such an obvious manner that it almost feels like he's selling something he desperately wants the audience to buy. Then , when he finally gets to the action sequences, Padilha drops the ball again by orchestrating really fancy shootout sequences that look like it came straight from a video game. We watch Robocop turn, shoot, shoot, turn, shoot some more, all in bullet fashion, so quick that the excitement leaves as soon as it arrives, like we're supposed to breeze through this stuff quickly because it doesn't matter.

In the acting department, the cast isn't too bad, the quality ranges from decent to good. Gary Oldman stands out the most as the doctor that creates Robocop, trying to balance right from wrong as he struggles with the idea of taking away a man's humanity for profit. Samuel L Jackson is also good as a talk show host supporting the idea of robot law enforcement. Joel Kinnaman is all right as Murphy/Robocop, his best scene being how he reacts when Oldman shows him how he looks like when the armor is removed. Michael Keaton downplays his role as the corporation owner wanting to make money out of his latest toy, but really, a guy like Keaton could have done better. A slightly more bombastic, scenery chewing level of acting would have made him more memorable. Abbie Cornish isn't too bad as Murphy's wife, but really doesn't have much else to do. Jackie Earle Haley, Jennifer Ehle and Jay Baruchel have even less to do in their roles, which is a great shame.

To sum it up, this remake just doesn't work for me. It's by no means a bad film, for I have seen much worse. But if you really want to be entertained, watch the 1987 version. I wouldn't buy this remake for a dollar. (2.5/5)

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