Before asking why, this reimagining (as the producers like to call it) rather than remake, is actually quite entertaining, top heavy with cool action sequences and a good committed cast. Law enforcement doesn’t get much more retro than Robocop.
In 1987 it became a global box office hit spawning sequels, one season of a live action television series, a children’s cartoon show, then bizarrely followed a decade later by four movies of the week made in Canada. It was an inventive science-fiction action film with human emotion and ultra violence controversially passed off as satire. Initially receiving an R rating, the film was reluctantly cut by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven qualifying for a less impartial M rating. It became so unexpectedly popular when unleashed on the then thriving home video market, two versions were released – M and a Director’s cut R with the latter being a global VHS sensation. This new movie could divide science-fiction aficionados as mediocre, I really liked it.
The story is still set in the near future of a decayed ‘Old Detroit’, officer Alex Murphy is an honest cop and family man gunned down point blank at the hands of ruthless criminals then resurrected by scientists into a half-man, half-machine crime-fighting cyborg. Authorised to use physical force on potential perpetrators, the fight is not only against drug dealing vagrants, but shady money hungry corporate types and a gaggle of corrupt cops.
The sleek new Robocop presents itself to a critical new generation more accustomed to state-of-the-art first person game warfare than stop motion special effects. Modernised, agile Robocop still has human emotions triggered during social situations but remains just as committed to instantly preventing crime. This time it is bad cop – Robocop.
An inspired casting choice of little known actor Joel Kinnaman emits raw freshness, a new streamlined look and coloured suit also gives Robocop an edge. Shaky camera sequences don’t show initiative during certain action set pieces, however other moments are subversive and exciting. Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson are a trio that raise the acting bar simply by walking on screen, while Australian Abbie Cornish, a Hunter Region local is impressive in a larger role as Murphy’s anguished wife. Jackson certainly has the best lines.
Unexpectedly sympathetic, fast cars, motorcycles and high calibre weaponry are all on hand to satisfy genre fans while a few references to the original are duly noted. ‘Your move creep’.
Shane A. Bassett