"Robocop, who is he? What is he? Where does he come from?" That is a quote from the original "Robocop" released in 1987. It is considered a cult classic by many and is one of the best movies by director Paul Verhoeven. It is now the latest victim of movies re-imagined by Hollywood and not for the better.
The original "Robocop" was about a police officer named Alex Murphy, played by Peter Weller, who is killed in the line of duty. A corporation called OCP transforms Murphy into a bad-ass law enforcement machine with three directives, Serve the Public Trust, Protect the Innocent, and Uphold the Law. The new movie is about a police officer named Alex Murphy, this time played by Joel Kinnaman, who is seriously injured when someone attempted to take his life. A corporation called OCP offered Murphy’s wife a chance for her husband to have a new ” life” as a half-man, half-machine called, Robocop.
Those two stories may sound similar, but this new "Robocop" storyline is quite different from the original. This is not a bad thing because what good would a complete rehashing do? In the original, Murphy's memory was erased, so Robocop initially had no memory of his former life. He only had a program. In this updated version, Murphy knows who he is. Many people often called him Murphy. He knows his wife and child and his relationship with them is a key point in this new movie.
If you had seen any of the trailers to "Robocop", none of them got you excited about seeing this movie; so, it is not much of a surprise that this did not turn out to be a good movie. When you do a remake of a fan-favorite movie, you have to be prepared for them to be compared. To start, ALL the original cast members are better than their 2014 counterparts. Peter Weller’s Murphy is far and beyond better than Kinnaman's portrayal. Weller did something very important in the first movie. He got you to LIKE Alex Murphy, the man. In this new movie, Kinnaman fails to do that. He's actually more robotic when he is human than when he become a robot.
Nancy Allen was better as Lewis, Murphy's partner, than is Michael K. Williams. Ronny Cox was a better OCP villain than is Michael Keaton and Kurtwood Smith was a million times better street as the villain than are Jackie Earle Haley or Patrick Garrow in this new movie. The first "Robocop" was Verhoeven's English language directorial debut and this movie is director José Padilha’s first English language movie. Verhoeven's style is one of the things that made his movie truly great. Padilha, for the most part, fails to deliver anything exciting in this new incarnation.
Small spoiler: None of the original cast members make cameo appearances in the new "Robocop." There are some throw away lines from the movie like, "Dead or alive, you're coming with me," but that's about it. The original theme is used a couple of times too.
While the 1987 version got things going pretty fast, the new movie takes a very long time to get going. In fact, even when there is some action, it is hardly exciting. The new "Robocop" picks up steam three quarters of the way through when Murphy starts to investigate his murder attempt. Things do get more entertaining and exciting from that point on, but we have to wait a long time to get there. Those who like the little messages the original had about corporations and the media, are in for a disappointment. They do try with Samuel L. Jackson's character, but they miss the mark.
Making a better "Robocop" movie, or at least one that can be as entertaining as the first, was almost an insurmountable task from the start. Viewers may think it odd that the new one is PG-13 while the original was rated R. To some, this is a red flag. However, for this remake, upping the violence and the gore or throwing in some nudity would have done nothing to improve it. It is a movie that is not worth the price of your ticket.