You might think that being an avid fan of Predator that I must have watched all the classic 80’s movies… Well I only got around to watching 1987’s RoboCop earlier last year and I really enjoyed it. It was more gritty than I expected and I thought their ‘future’ was pretty accurate really. I can see how hardcore fans of the original RoboCop might not enjoy the 2014 adaptation, but I think it is fair to say I can be objective with my review!
RoboCop is set in 2028 Detroit, (not that far in the future really considering their advancement in weaponry) where OmniCorp already have robots on the ground in several countries, but have failed to have them approved for US soil. There is some stigma about robots not knowing what it is to be human… ergo RoboCop is born. We know the story!! However, director José Padilha takes us in a slightly different direction, the details of which I wont divulge for those who are yet to see it of course!
I enjoyed Joel Kinnaman as the man himself Alex Murphy, I liked that he is quite conventional and they didn’t use a well known actor who could have taken away from the role itself. Plus I thought his performance was good as he slips back and forth from robot to human personas. The relationship with his partner played by Michael Williams felt authentic but was perhaps under used. I would have enjoyed a bit more buddy cop action.
One character I didn’t care for was Abbie Cornish as Murphy’s wife – fair play to her for getting the gig but I find her really mundane, she can cry so…guess she did a good job there. Thinking about it the female species doesn’t come off great in this film, on the other side of the table we have OmniCorp bitch played by Jennifer Ehle, some one I recognised but I couldn’t for the life of me remember where from – you will have to IMDB her for yourself! She is NOT a likeable character. Aimee Garcia brings it back a little for the girls though as the Doctors assistant and comes into her own a little more toward the end.
Speaking of the doctor, a great role for Gary Oldman here, effortless as ever. I enjoyed his emotional turmoil and wrestle with the moral high ground, made for a good final act. Plus Michael Keaton as OmniCorp boss plays a good role, just charismatic enough to get away with it but shows his true colours in the end, good old stereotype for you in that one. I didn’t really understand the casting of main ‘bad guy’ Antoine Vallon, played by Patrick Garrow – he is a something and nothing for me – not a scratch on the villain of the original which is such a key part of the story it let the film down for me. You know who would have made the better bad guy is Jackie Earle Haley who plays a hard core military man brought in to train up the ‘tin man’. We all know he can pull off creepy and menacing from his portrayal of Rorschach in Watchmen. Might have been the better choice here?!
What do I know… I thought the story was well told, the use of Samuel L Jackson as a TV host taking us through the media journey was a nice touch, I didn’t much care for his delivery but I don’t enjoy those type of American style chat shows anyway. It was of course exaggerated to make a point (I hope), so it served its purpose. I also thought the way RoboCop himself worked by using CCTV, mobile data, scanning and all the fancy gadgets was really well done and scored a point over the original for that.
It has just occurred to me that I have barely touched on actual ROBOCOP?! The suit looked pretty awesome to be fair, and I loved the way he moved – of course with the help of modern special effects this felt a lot more realistic than the original. The fight scenes are few and far between but oh my does he KICK BUTT when he gets going. Two scenes to mention, the fire fight in the dark, and the taking down of the drones were AWESOME. Unfortunately, a little more fighting and a little less emotional turmoil could have pulled this film from a 6.7 on IMDB to an 8 at least. Plus cut 15 minutes off the running time and you’ve got yourself a winner!
My POV, this film is worth a watch. If you are a MEGA fan of the original you will probably hate it for the way it mixes up the story and the characters journey – but for an objective viewer like myself, I had fun watching it and will probably watch it on DVD again!