Written by Steven Panzarella (@ProCreateSteve)
The Short- Surprisingly well acted, Robocop is much better than advertised but that doesn’t make it great. A flimsy script and nearly action-less stretches make it a below average February drop in. Joel Kinnaman makes a compelling Alex Murphy and Gary Oldman is as usual excellent as the conflicted creator of the part man part machine. The action is awesome at times and sparing at others and the PG-13 rating leaves RoboCop lacking the creativity and needed violence that made the original so compelling.
Robocop might be a remake of a 1980’s classic action flick but unlike some of the past remakes of older films the 2014 RoboCop is a PG-13 character piece that has a lot less action. RoboCop is more about Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) who in the midst of investigating members of his own precinct and a Detroit gangster as he is nearly killed in a car bombing. Murphy’s wife (Abbie Cornish) is given the choice to let him suffer or subject him to a lifesaving procedure created by technological giant Omnicorp to put a man inside a machine and create the first ever half human/half cyborg police officer.
RoboCop Director Jose Padilha made his first big budget studio film this time around and struggled creatively on more than one occasion at one point telling a close friend "for every ten ideas he has, nine are cut. The film will be good, but I have never suffered so much and I do not want to do it again." Padilha and the star Kinnamen also battled the studio for an R-Rating which as the budget ballooned over $100 million dollars became impossible. Padilha’s direction is not the problem with RoboCop, his direction and focus on Alex Murphy, and his plight of becoming an unfeeling cyborg is where the movie thrives. The issue with RoboCop is its script by first time writer Joshua Zetumer, the dialogue is flimsy and the film never realizes its identity between action film and Drama. The Action is never consistent, and the film takes long breaks between setting up its characters and any action sequences.
What RoboCop lacks in dialogue it gains in acting from some of its main characters. Joel Kinnaman is a quality lead, but the films best actor is Gary Oldman. Oldman plays RoboCop creator and scientist Dr. Dennett Norton. Dr. Norton is the most memorable aspect of RoboCop in that he is the most fulfilled character in the film, between wanting to continue his research and care for his patient he is stuck in-between and is RoboCops’ best asset. Oldman is very good, and even though Michael Keaton was not the filmmaker’s first or second choice he still plays the head of Omnicorp and one of the films chief villains Raymond Sellars. It’s no surprise that one of the films best performances comes from Samuel L. Jackson, who plays a very biased TV hosting doing what it would look like if you combined Rush Limbaugh with Bill O’Reilly. He provides some comic relief when needed and also sets up the film’s overarching plot. You also get quality turns from Jackie Earle Haley, Jay Baruchel and Jennifer Ehle in support of the villain Raymond Sellars.
RoboCop is not a great movie, but it was a better film then I would have given it credit for at first glance. It did have some glaring holes in its script and the fact that the studio would not allow the director creative freedom shows the exact problems with the Hollywood remake process . The lack of an R-rating makes it difficult to justify a remake, especially when the original was as violent as it was. Padilha is a director with a fresh vision and his cast is quite good, but its script leaves more to be desired and because of that it only manages to be good enough for us to be shocked by its quality but not much more than that.