Robocop DI 2014 (1)
2014 Running time: 118 Certificate: 12 Rating: 3
Robocop

Synopsis

Shiny reboot of the classic 1987 future-shocker with Joel Kinnaman as the critically wounded Detroit detective who is rebuilt by the global OmniCorp as a crime-fighting cyborg. But while his creator (Gary Oldman) fights to keep his personality intact, company boss Michael Keaton sees the human factor as a major bug in his money-making program. The law of remakes demands state-of-the-art visuals, new narrative angles and lots of action. Brazilian director Jose Padilha has two hours to comply.

Director

  • José Padilha

Cast

  • Joel Kinnaman

  • Gary Oldman

  • Michael Keaton

  • Abbie Cornish

  • Douglas Urbanski

  • Jackie Earle Haley

Review

Glossy, middle-of-the-road remakes are part and parcel of Hollywood today, and if the likes of the recent Evil Dead or Total Recall reboots are a barometer, it's fair to say that hopes were not high for RoboCop.

Perhaps low expectations are the best approach here. For while RoboCop 2.0 is not a patch on Paul Verhoeven's blisteringly brilliant 1987 classic, it is also not quite the catastrophe it could have been.

In the hands of Brazilian director José Padilha, who directed the electrifying crime hit Elite Squad, the sci-fi action is surprisingly satirical - and surprisingly entertaining.

Where Verhoeven satirised 1980s gluttony, Padilha takes aim at modern media hysterics. Samuel L. Jackson plays a blowhard pundit in the Fox News mould, blustering about how America needs to shake its "robophobia".

Meanwhile, huge military drones are used in wars overseas; an opening sequence imagines a future war with Iran, in a grim comment on American foreign policy.

These glimmers of smarts are met by flashes of fun. Detective Alex Murphy's journey into the bionic suit is slow and painful, but the action, when it comes, is fast and efficient.

Yet this RoboCop has lost its edge. The studio's pursuit of that lucrative family-friendly rating means that unlike the killing floor theatrics of the original, Detroit's saviour now brandishes a non-lethal taser.

Abbie Cornish, meanwhile, is left to watch tearfully from the touchlines, in another desperately underwritten female role.

Acting juggernauts like Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton can't prevent the creeping feeling that this is, in fact, just another remake.

It'll while away a couple of hours, but you'll always return to the original.

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