When Robocop burst onto the scene in 1987 it looked to be another cheesy sci-fi action flick, but ended up being so much more. Since then it has become a classic that has spawned 2 sequels, a TV series, comics, video games and tons of merchandise. It was no surprise in this day and age that they decided to remake/reboot the franchise, but as always is one of those films that no one wanted a remake for. Despite various issues and an outcry of anger from fans this latest take on Robocop is here and sports an impressive cast including Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Jackie Earle Haley, Jay Baruchel, and Michael K. Williams, but does it have the nuts and bolts to back it up?
Robocop follows the year 2028 where multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Their drones have been used by the military for years and it's meant billions for OmniCorp's bottom line. When a good cop is critically injured in the line of duty OmniCorp sees their chance to bring their controversial technology to the home front for a part-man, part-robot police officer, but they never counted on one thing: there is still a man inside the machine pursuing justice. Anyone that loves the first film and who doesn’t will surely walk into this movie expecting a disaster, but thankfully it’s not. Sure gone are the in your face social commentary, but in it’s place is a fun alternative with Samuel L. Jackson leading the charge using the news talk show format to make these random moments actually work into the film as opposed to being just there to be. There was a lot of complaints about the black variation of the character, but there are plenty of nods to the original throughout the film and a decent explination for the more stealth design that makes sense and works. While Joel Kinnaman may not bring the same innocence to the character that Weller did, he does bring a more emotional depth to the character thanks to his performance and the story itself. Here they spend more time taking the audience into the real struggles of the transformation from man to machine both physically and mentally that makes the character feel more real. Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson all deliver like only they can and make for a great cast to round out the film, with each bringing an important aspect to the film. Jackie Earle Haley is awesome as always, but sadly underused.
The social commentary with the drones works well thanks to it being relevant today making for a clever direction for the story. It’s not quite as in your face or probably as effective as the original, but that is going to be dependent on the viewer. Most do not understand or don’t care of this rising issue that could be good or bad for the world, which makes it a perfect topic that ties directly into the character. One of the biggest issues going into it was the PG-13 rating. While there isn’t any of the graphic bloodletting that the original had, it does still bring the pain with tons of great action. Something about seeing Robocop running toting two guns was just awesome to watch. There are some really awesome action pieces, most notably when he faces off with the ED-209 drones. While they are awesome to watch, the use of the shaky cam throughout the film at times becomes a bit annoying and distracting. It is supposed to be making the film feel more real and gritty, but instead makes it hard to see what is going on at times.
While the film as a whole works well it does miss some great chances to have more depth and punch to the finished product. They spent so much great time taking us deeper into the character of Robocop, but managed to just feed us enough of his wife and kid to tempt but never follow through with it. As the film moves towards its climax it feels like a lot of build-up to an end that has no passion. The road to get there is fun and entertaining, but with each of the big moments it feels like they just rushed through it like it didn’t matter. This doesn’t hurt the overall film, but does miss some great opportunities to give it the depth it needed to live up to the original. Despite these few short comings it is a remake/reboot that manages to deliver way more than expected and will hopefully do well enough to kick off a new franchise. No matter what anyone says, you know getting to see Robocop kick some ass is always a good thing. Obviously, don’t forget the original but let it stay the classic it is and step into this one as the future of law enforcement and you will have a good time.
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