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‘Robocop’ rifles through questions of the morality maze

RoboCop (2014)


Joel Kinnaman stars as Alex Murphy, police officer, husband and dad who one day opens his car door only to be blown into smithereens. Yet, “Robocop” is not a mere retelling of the story, but a rewriting as well. Both stories center around a police officer wounded in the line of duty, yet the writers in this film supplemented the story by adding in the technology of drone warfare and robotics as a means to cleanly eradicate criminals with little cost to human life.
Throughout the film Samuel L. Jackson pops in as spokesman Pat Novak advocating for this idea, by showing how drones and robots (funded by the U.S.) in foreign countries fight crime and asking if this works there, why not use them in the U.S.? While this is going on Senator Dreyfus, Zach Grenier puts forth a bill to ban the program, and millionaire Raymond Sellars, Michael Keaton who runs Omni Corp, is the opposition (advocating for the drone/ Robocop program ostensibly to save lives, while raking in a huge profit).
However, following the Alex’s near murder, Omni Corp seizes on the opportunity to not only rebuild Alex, but to instill in him the robo technology, swing popular opinion and reverse the Dreyfus bill which would ban the drone/Robocop program. Yet, what is the cost to Alex and his family? Will their attempts to control him turn him into more machine than man, thus lobotomizing him into submission? Is this the only way in which crime and the baser elements in society can be subdued? What are the legal and moral ramifications, which could not only cost a man his liberty, but the family he loves? “Robocop” does not answer these questions, yet it places them on the table. There are many side gibes to the NSA, and others which make this action film about more than bad guys versus good guys, and right versus wrong.

Joel Kinnaman in Robocop

While Novak puts these questions out there, his rambling becomes a droning blur, sounding more like the pesky sibilance of a mosquito (albeit one who dresses like a small time game show host) than one to be taken seriously. “Robocop" would have done better to cut these sonorous monologues to no one, and instead just show us the consequences. That would have made all the difference.