Cinematic Releases: Robocop (2014)

Robocop (2014): A film that finally (semi) legitimizes the remake trend.

"My friends call me KITT."
For the first time ever, a modern remake has taken the ball and run with it, making the new telling more than just a recreation of the former film but a new one that has almost nothing in common with its base material. 

This is a sleeker Robocop that doesn't ever reach the boldness or grimy feel of the original. It's also lessened the cheese factor into non-existence as we get a new modernized version of Robocop and his arch nemesis the ED-209. 

Other than the setting of Detroit, the capitalist antics of Omnicorp, and heroic cop Alex Murphy, Robocop (2014) is by far one of the best remakes to ever hit the screen. It's not without hiccups and serious script issues, but its overwhelmingly a decent movie that attacks serious issues like medical morality, corporate cronyism, the use of military drones, and the ever present problems of police corruption. It's too bad that the strengths of the film all come to a dead stop once the third act kicks in. 

In this new telling of Robocop, we get a new version of Alex Murphy. He seems harder, more devoted to his work and definitely more family oriented. Unlike the original film, a lot of time is spent with Alex's wife (almost to the point of annoyance). Don't get me wrong. Abbie Cornish is a stunning and talented actress but her part in the movie becomes a major plot distraction that took away from the almost non-existent action and made the movie feel weighted down by plot points that didn't really need to be there. If they had stayed on point and not forced the wife and kid down our throats repeatedly, this could have been a much better Robocop.....with more action. 

Where the film succeeds is in its strong delivery of social commentary, it totally fails in the action department. The scenes we do get are rendered beautifully and with total precision. However, there's not enough of them to really call this an "action" movie. There's a lot more talking than there is ass kicking and that began to wear on me when I realized we were entering the third act with almost no violent scenes to speak of. Ten minutes less random dialogue about medical morals could have resulted in ten more minutes of the hardcore action I was looking for. 

"Did you just say we're out
of donuts?"
Despite all the mild weaknesses, two actors take this Robocop remake and drive it straight home. The always awesome Gary Oldman and an evil Michael Keaton play off each other with distinction and class. One is the mild mannered creator of Robocop and the other is the corporate scum that would sacrifice humanity for a dollar. The pairing of these two masters is genius in a movie that so easily could have passed these roles of to low budget middling character actors that would have added nothing to the film. 

If you're looking to be blown away, check out the first ninety minutes of this Robocop remake. The beginning builds a solid foundation for a reinvigorated and retooled version of a classic 80's icon, but it all comes crashing down in a rushed and poorly conceived last act. A little more time spent editing and a few more minutes of action could have made this a much stronger re-telling of this man becomes machine story. 

- Review by Chris George