REVIEW: ROBOCOP / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: JOSE PADHILA / SCREENPLAY: JOSHUA ZETURNER / STARRING: JOEL KINNAMAN, GARY OLDMAN, MICHAEL KEATON, SAMUEL L. JACKSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The only audience likely to take a real shine to Jose Padhila’s achingly unnecessary remake of RoboCop is one that hasn’t seen a single frame of Paul Verhoeven‘s still-awesome 1987 original. Those who saw RoboCop first time round or have since caught up with it, won’t be able to resist shrugging their shoulders, furrowing their brows and muttering, “Yes, but why…?” all the way through this serviceable, slick but soulless and pointless trip back to a well drained dry by poor sequels, cartoons and umpteen cheap TV movies.
Verhoeven’s movie (from a script by Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner) was a tough and unrelentingly visceral experience laced through with tart, biting social commentary. Padhila’s version is content to briefly flirt with its social conscience by presenting Samuel L. Jackson as a futuristic TV presenter who Shouts A Lot (Jackson’s default setting these days) about how great it would be if America had the same robot enforcement technology employed by the US Army overseas. Happy to oblige, Sam. When cop Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is blown up by a car bomb (with none of the stomach-curdling slo-mo relish of Peter Weller’s original Murphy) robotics conglomerate OmniCorp steps in to convert his remains – essentially his head, some innards and his right hand – into a revolutionary robot police officer. A RoboCop, if you will. Now more machine than man, Alex struggles to come to terms with his new situation unaware that the powers which created him – Omincorp’s head honcho Raymond Sellars (Keaton) and chief scientist Dennett Norton (Oldman) – have very different plans for his future.
Superficially RoboCop is enjoyable enough, but tearing out the heart and, some might say, the purpose of the original just leaves this hollow shell of a film, an action movie whose action sequences are distinctly underpowered and which, with no subtext to support it, is really little better than some straight-to-DVD sci-fi movie, albeit one with an untypically distinguished cast. Kinnaman passes virtually unnoticed as Murphy and both Keaton and Oldman do their best to make an impact in the clichéd bad CEO/well-meaning scientist roles they’re lumbered with. The visual CGI make-over is as efficient as we might expect – Robo’s climactic battle with a bunch of robot drones may generate a flicker of interest – but no amount of 21st century movie magic can make RoboCop 2014 anything other than a tepid, bland and entirely unnecessary husk of a film. Newbies might be impressed but us oldies have seen it all before, and seen it done a damn sight better.
Extras: Featurettes / Deleted scenes