RoboCop

Posted: February 22, 2014 in Movie Reviews

"Dead or alive, I'm taking you in"

“Dead or alive, I’m taking you in”

We all know the valiance of our police force, the men and women who sacrifice of themselves for peace and our protection. But what if, through technology and robotics, we could make better, stronger, more accurate fighters that could make our streets even safer without even posing a risk to themselves? How would society respond? Would the government allow such unconventional methods? Where would you set the boundary between man and machine? Could such power become corrupt? These are all questions and moral dilemmas that RoboCop strives to answer.

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Summary: (No spoilers)

The year is 2028 and robotics is at the forefront of modern technology. With military drones and robotic soldiers being used globally, all under the control of OmniCorp’s Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton—–Batman, Beetlejuice), many claim that such forces should be used in the U.S. The only thing preventing it: public opinion and a Congressional bill strictly prohibiting the use of drones on U.S. soil. With television pundits such as Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson—–The Avengers, Pulp Fiction) pushing for the repeal of the bill, Sellars comes up with a definite conclusion: in order to sway public opinion, a man must be put into a machine—–a machine that can rationally think and feel just like a human, but will be superior in every other way.

When Detroit detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman—–Safe House) is fatally injured in an explosion meant to take his life, Sellars seizes the opportunity to create the first-ever robotic cop. He employs robotic-neuroscientist Dr. Dennet Norton (Gary Oldman—–The Dark Knight trilogy) to save Murphy’s life by placing his vital organs into the most advanced robotic technology known to mankind. As Sellars and Norton calibrate the system, however, ethics are put the test as all involved must decide the fine line between how much machine should control the man.

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You always have to ask if remakes and reboots are necessary. Star Trek reboot? Necessary to revive a dead franchise. Planet of the Apes reboot? Necessary to introduce a new storyline with new technology. But a Robocop remake? Not particularly necessary, but a fun sci-fi flick nonetheless.

A natural tendency with these types of films and especially dealing with remakes is to fill up your two hours with big action and drama, essentially using the advanced CGI technology of today to tell the story that you couldn’t wholly tell before (think TRON). But this current retelling of RoboCop is not afraid to reiterate and embellish the actual story being told. It goes through the proper plot structuring and character introductions, but doesn’t stop there. Interweaved within the high-scale action sequences are questions of morality and what great power—–even technological power worth billions—–can do to a person.

Visually, the film takes opportunities to pay homage to the 1987 original, throwing in little references here and there. The first suit introduced is the classic gray-and-black suit and is eventually replaced with the more “tactical” black suit, but eventually at the end goes back to the gray. In all other respects, this film ups the ante with larger action and higher risks without veering too far into Michael Bay-style film making.

RoboCop_Gary Oldman

But one of the film’s finest points is that it doesn’t have quite as big of a bang as one would expect. Most film-makers starting a new franchise (especially one such as this that relies heavily on lots of shooting and effects) would give us all the high-stakes action we could ever want within two hours; but in this case, there leaves much to be desired. It does have action, to be sure, but the film leaves you wanting more. That’s what a good action film should do: leave you wanting more, not leave you with a headache. I feel that if a 2nd RoboCop is made, there’s potential visually and action-wise to explore new ground.

In a nutshell:

At its core, it may be popcorn entertainment meant to embody characteristic high-octane Hollywood thrills, but it’s good popcorn entertainment. It’s sleek and smart and rarely ventures into the world of cheap CGI or melodramatic sci-fi. It’s fun enough to assert that they’ve saved enough for a sequel, and possibly even a franchise.

   7.5 stars

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