RoboCop (2014)

Rating: C+

Dir: José Padilha
Star: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish

As remakes go, this falls into the twing categories of “respectable enough” and “irrelevant.” On its own terms, this is by no means a bad movie, with Kinnaman probably making for a more likeable lead than Weller, who always seemed unconvincing. The basic plot is the same: cop falls victim to crime, but is reborn as part-man, part-machine – admittedly, in this case, the ratio is about 10-90, with no much left of the human except for his head, a hand and a pair of lungs. Robocop then discovers the people running the show are not necessarily any better than the criminals he has been tracking down, and has to “break his programming” in order to ensure there is justice for all.

There are a couple of differences, however: Murphy is never separated from his family, with his wife (Cornish) giving the go-ahead for the surgery that turns him into Robocop. His death is also much more sudden, being the result of a car-bomb, rather than the extended, amazingly cruel shotgun dismemberment of the original. This restraint is probably one of the more disappointing features of the remake, with Padilha not bringing anywhere like the same glee to the mayhem which Verhoeven delivered. The satirical elements are similarly watered-down: while the original took stabs at everything from news coverage to cars, in this version, that’s largely limited to the rantings of a talk-show host (Samuel L. Jackson).

However, the director does bring much the same energy to proceedings here, as to his two Elite Squad films, and you can see why he was picked for this project, given those were not dissimilar in content (honest cop must go above and beyond, in order to bring down a system which, it turns out, is as rotten inside as it is out). There are a couple of nice acknowledgements of its predecessor in the dialogue, though it’s clear Padilha is interested in going a different direction, about the line between humanity and machinery, and whether using the latter to augment and help the former is necessarily a good thing. As such, it’s worthy enough, but it certainly seems hampered by the PG-13 rating, and perhaps that’s why it also feels less “adult” as a result,