Brazilian director José Padilha has attempted to bring the 1987 Sci-Fi classic RoboCop into the modern world of the 21st century, with a glamourise, yet ethically-laced remake, starring relatively unknown Joel Kinnaman as the man in the hi-tech robot suit.
The story is the same; Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is blown up in a plot against his life, allowing the big-time tech company OmniCorp, run by Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), to seize their chance in putting a real man inside one of their police robots to (they hope) patrol the streets of America. Gary Oldman stars as Dr. Dennett Norton, the man tasked with making this part-man, part-robot work, with Patrick Garrow playing Detroit’s most notorious criminal Antoine Vallon, and Samuel L. Jackson making an appearance as opinionated TV host PA Novak, an avid supporter of all things OmniCorp.
Vallon (Garrow), the man who tries to end Alex Murphy’s life, is just a sideshow in the grand scheme of things. The real bad guys in Padilha’s remake are not the gun-touting villains on the streets, but the multi-billion dollar corporations. The American public are, as Novak declares, “robophobic” in regards to trusting robots to police their streets, despite success internationally. Sellars, smelling the dollar signs, is desperate to change this anyway he can, whatever the cost. The director is sticking two fingers up to these companies, and in this case OmniCorp, for their power-hungry nature. Gary Oldman is everything that is good about the film, shown through his handling of the moral and ethical dilemmas he faces in trying to turn OmiCorp, and Sellars’ dreams of a half man, half robot, into reality.
2014’s RoboCop has soul and depth from a story-line point of view, arguably more so than the original, but where it lacks severely on the 80’s classic is the robot itself. Its stale action-sequences and tedious shoot ’em ups leave much to be desired when comparing to Paul Verhoeven’s much more bloodier version.
Padilha has produced an interesting take on a cult classic, and one that will appease fans of the original whilst still being able to attract newer, younger ones who may not be aware of the 1987 hit. For as much as its ethical crusade against big corporations was so well pieced together, the films real downfall is where it should have really concentrated its efforts – on making the man in the robot suit, with all its glitz and glamour, less sleep-inducing.