“We get the best of both worlds. The fastest reflexes modern technology can buy, on-board computer assisted memory, and a lifetime of on-the-street law enforcement programming. It is my great pleasure to present to you…RoboCop.” – Bob Morton
Remakes primarily leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. No one goes into a remake with high hopes. You usually protest on the drive to the theater saying, “Alright, how shitty can this movie possibly get before I walk out in fan-flaming disgust?” Every once in a while, your expectations are so low, you end up surprised with the result. This happened to me with Dredd, and now with the 2014 remake of RoboCop.
The 2014 RoboCop directed by Jose Padilha and starring Joel Kinnaman is set in 2028 Detroit. Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is a loving husband, father, and one hell of a cop. Along with his partner, Jack Lewis (Michael K. Williams from The Wire), Alex learns of some dirty cops in the DPD and seeks to bring them down. Unfortunately he gets himself blown up instead. Alex’s partner Jack Lewis is a nice tip of the hat to Officer Anne Lewis, Murphy’s partner in the 1987 original, but with a lack of character development for Jack, you don’t feel the same love for him as you did for Anne. That could be due to the fact that Jack doesn’t make the same sacrifice of his life as Anne did but this movie feels different from the original in a lot of ways besides that.
Detroit isn’t crime strickened in this remake like it is in the original, but the world still has its fair share of problems. Mostly in foreign unions like we do in the real world, such as Afghanistan and Iraq where we lose soldiers to random gun-fire, land mines, and suicide bombers. In 2028, OmniCorp, otherwise known as OCP, protects us in these foreign areas with the use of Mandroids referred to as the EM-208; human like androids who follow instructions and protocols with ease. We see them in action in the first scene, but their cold demeanor and lack of human empathy is what is holding them back from being accepting in the states. Well that, and the laws blocking robots from having any real responsibilities. It is up to OCP and Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) to change the public’s opinion and gain a repeal of the law. With no real change of opinion coming any time soon, Sellars decides to meet the people half way by creating the first half man, half machine robotically enhanced law enforcement officer, and he does so by using the scrap parts from a recently blown up Alex Murphy.
Gary Oldman plays Dr. Bennett Norton, the scientist tasked with inventing the man/machine hybrid, but Dr. Norton has a heavy heart. He does not feel as comfortable with playing God as much as the front runner of OCP, Raymond Sellars, does. His inner conflict encompasses doing what is right and jet-setting his career. In the original film, Murphy returns to the DPD as a robot haunted by the faint memories of his family. In 2014, Alex struggles to keep a hold of his humanity while simultaneously trying to convince himself that he is still human. That struggle extends to the conscience of Dr. Norton who has to remove more and more of Murphy’s consciousness to keep up with the 98% success rate of the EM-208. Gary Oldman portrayed that battle with himself effortlessly and sets a contrast with that of his 1987 counterpart, Bob Morton, who had no issue with what OmniCorp was doing.
Dr. Norton isn’t the villain in this story, though. Sellars was the one forcing Bennett to make a more efficient machine. In doing so, he forced some unexpected results from the subject, Murphy. Rather than let the machine part of him take control, Alex Murphy pushes himself to solve the case of his own attempted murder and gains the majority of his sentience back. That’s when the movie gets especially exciting, in my opinion, but I won’t ruin the entire movie for you. Jay Baruchel as the Marketing Director for OCP ruins one of only a couple lines stolen from the 1987 movie. I won’t spoil what line it is, but they shouldn’t have even put it in the movie if they weren’t going to do it right. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the change in color of the suit in this movie but the way they played the grey against the black like it was the difference between cool RoboCop and overly-methodical RoboCop was nice in the end.
Once I heard the film was rated PG-13, my lifted spirits began to fall. I was afraid they couldn’t show the amount of violence or depict the debauchery of snorting a line of cocaine off a pair of tits and have quite the same effect on the audience. I mean, we rape and rob hookers in Grand Theft Auto. Not much slays us these days. But show the remnants of a man with nothing left to his very being besides a brain, a face, and a pair of lungs and you have just dropped a lot of jaws. Put a mirror in front of that man and your audience will watch in horror as he concludes for the first time that he doesn’t want to live anymore. PG-13 or not, that scene will affect you. It made me feel that feeling you get when you realize there’s nothing left to live for. To watch that character not only endure, but also recover from that feeling was a real treat. Even without the R rating, I left the theater satisfied with the action, and in my deepest possible voice repeating to myself, “Dead or alive; you’re coming with me.”
I give RoboCop 4 out of 5 Nerd Skulls.
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