There are a lot of reboots these days. That’s a fact. A lot of them lately have been coming from the 1980s and RoboCop is no different. The difference here is that they’e already remade one of Paul Verhoeven’s, the original film’s director, movies with the Colin Farrell-led Total Recall. And we all know how that one turned out. But, in this reboot of RoboCop, the filmmakers actually take the time to give it some substance and bring the film into the 21st century and relevant to what’s going on today while still being satirical like the original.
The film’s plot revolves heavily around the use of robots, which are being used in countries all over the world (except in the U.S.). They’re invasive, unemotional, and gun down anyone they deem a threat without thoroughly assessing the situation. At this point, there are about three key players in all this: Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson), pro-robot and host of The Novak Element; Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), CEO of Omnicorp and robot manufacturer; and Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman), a scientist who uses robots in every way, shape, and form to help people with severe injuries.
Novak is set in his opinion that robots, for security purposes, should be used on U.S. soil, regardless of the invasive procedures they ensue. He’s a lot like certain people we see on the news these days in their very straight-forward, argumentative, one-way, and I-won’t-budge-on-this-topic types. Sellars is similar to Novak, except he doesn’t care about the pros and cons but wishes to make a lot of money by finally introducing robots to the U.S. And Norton is the morally ambiguous scientist who doesn’t completely feel pro-anything except for his work.
All of this conflict about the robot issues comes to a head when Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is targeted for murder while pursuing a gun seller and a set of corrupt cops. Murphy is bombed and his wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) agrees to have the new part machine, part human procedure done to save his life. Of course, she doesn’t know what she’s getting him into as Sellars has decided that a part human robot would sell to the American people much better than a complete artificially intelligent robot.
The film, regardless of early naysayers, is a decently thought-out script with a lot going for it. There’s a lot of underlying socio-political issues being thrown at the audience with their satirical take on the drone-happy military culture we have going on overseas. The supporting cast is excellent and everyone bounces off of each other really well and the tension-raising momentum really grows that way.
Joel Kinnaman fills former RoboCop Peter Weller’s shoes in a way that doesn’t fit perfectly, but still fits. He is kind of overshadowed by the great cast around him, but when he’s in RoboCop mode, it doesn’t really matter. In fact, the robot parts of the story are the most interesting. Unlike the original film, they try to give us a lot more of Murphy’s personal life in the form of his wife and son, but these aspects are underdeveloped and semi-dull because of this.
The action sequences are pretty great. They combine some traditional fighting action, with a lot of video-game-like sequences. It’s not front and center in the film, so it isn’t just brainless action, but fun, adrenaline rush-type action. There are occasional moments when the movie becomes a little tiring in the personal side of things for Murphy, mainly since they’re awkward and these parts account for the least exciting of the film.
All in all, the 21st century RoboCop isn’t a letdown. It has great action sequences, interesting dialogue, and relevant modern-day issues all laced into the film. The supporting cast is excellent in their respective roles. And even if Joel Kinnaman doesn’t completely live up to Weller’s turn as Murphy or rises to the occasion of his fellow cast members, but at least doesn’t just fade into the background. A remake that doesn’t put shame in the hearts of its fans.