Plot: In 2028 Detroit, when Alex Murphy - a loving husband, father and good cop - is critically injured in the line of duty, the multinational conglomerate OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer.
At its heart, director José Padilha’s new film RoboCop, a somber remake of the satirical 1987 film of the same name, is the story of ...
At its heart, director José Padilha’s new film RoboCop, a somber remake of the satirical 1987 film of the same name, is the story of the Frankenstein’s monster that, amidst all its attempts to emulate the Iron Man movies and Nolan’s Batman films alike, engages because of its humanistic approach towards its character. There’s a disturbing scene where Alex Murphy, an ex-cop who has lost most of his organs in a bomb blast and who has now been embedded into a robot – a RoboCop – is allowed to look at himself in the mirror. It makes us feel the inner identity crisis the protagonist feels, and this conceit, albeit clichéd, feels believable and drives the entire film, even the action setpieces, rendering them meaningful. It is a sleekly packaged film, but both its action and its drama lack the visionary edge. But in its current form, it remains an adequately engaging if not memorable movie.
I remember playing an 8 bit version of Robocop when a friend got that rare cassette, only saw bits of the animated series, it was one of those film...
I remember playing an 8 bit version of Robocop when a friend got that rare cassette, only saw bits of the animated series, it was one of those films that was on Star Movies every now and then in the 90s. And in memory it wasn’t that special a film, though it was something every one knew. And now when I read up about how it was path breaking in many ways and after a few Verhoeven’s interviews I am already a fan of the film I mildly remember. As much as I belong to the group that is fed up with Hollywood’s recycling exercises this Robocop reboot had just about enough to make it count.
The film opens with The Novak Element hosted by Pat Novak (Samuel L), a show of the future where guests can attend as holograms and Novak can say whatever he wants. Pat’s questioning The Dreyfus Act, an act that prevents America from using robot soldiers that are proven successes in America’s overseas operations. On the show - a live stream of the robot law enforcement in Tehran. Tension caused by a suicide bomb attack on the robots ends with the killing of innocent boy because the machine reads the kid holding a knife as a ‘threat’ and eliminates him without second thought.
The film debates that moment which would need a lot more than programmed instructions, the human element, especially amongst those carrying weapons. So to bring in the tin soldiers into the American market Omnicorp needs something more. And the CEO (Raymonds Sellers played by Michael Keaton) now turns to his chief scientist (Dr.Norton By Gary Oldman) who had already developed artificial limbs for many but is unwilling to put his research to military use. He ultimately budges to the request and Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), a cop barely saved after a bomb blast is who they pick for the cyborg experiment.
Like most reboots of late Robocop isn’t all about the action, the film spends enough time with the cyborg’s introspection and his family life. However, these parts lack the indulgence of say a Nolan’s Batman or the lightness of Webb’s Amazing Spider Man and seems to linger around Robocop for long enough to have a less introspective sequel.
RoboCop is exactly the kind of reboot/ remake I like. It far exceeded my expectations as I thought the studio would hire a filmmaker to make an exa...
RoboCop is exactly the kind of reboot/ remake I like. It far exceeded my expectations as I thought the studio would hire a filmmaker to make an exact replica of the original, only changing the period and setting. The fact that the José Paldinha tries to stick with the original’s premise but takes several detours from the plot are perhaps the same reasons why you would like or dislike the film. Personally, the more detours it took, the more it impressed me. It wants to be more character-driven than a fun action movie, which might disappoint both the fans and the general audience.
Joel Kinnaman takes over from Peter Weller (Please don’t say Robert John Burke) and considering how good he is on one of the most underrated television shows – The Killing, he doesn’t disappoint. We see his face more and he emotes even when he is cyborged up. He humanizes RoboCop. In fact, the single reason why I enjoyed this film as much as I did is due to the filmmaker opting to create an existential tug of war between being man or machine. Moreover, I always wondered what happened to Murphy’s human life post the transformation. I finally get to see it. His family is not forgotten and handily explored. Abbie Cornish plays his wife, she looks gorgeous as ever (not the point) and makes us feel her pain and longing. The emotional crux of the film is strong and rarely falters.
The original film was, in a way, a superhero film. It borrowed from the Superman movies at the time with a do-gooder catching the bad guys like a resurrected Jesus. He was Iron Man from the comics in an uber-science fiction avatar. Paul Verhoeven was at the helm and hence, we got some ultra-violence. This update is less comic-book-like. Paldinha borrows from The Dark Knight (2008) and Nolan’s Batman films, which is true for at least 50 movies post the path-breaking film’s release but not many create an identity of their own. Instead of a police-car, he gets his own Bat-mobile. He even has Gordon on his side. I mean, Gary Oldman, playing the trusty doctor. Not to mention, the presence of the original Batman, Mr. Michael Keaton who plays the smug corporate honcho.
I was also pleasantly surprised to see conversations in the film. The banter between Oldman and Keaton is delicious. The action in the film is never dull. It’s always exciting and involves you throughout. As the original film was a commentary on the American culture, this film doesn’t shy away from it either. In fact, it bites right into it, in a more overt manner. Corporatization and corruption are given the stink eye.
The one thing missing from the film is nostalgia. There is absolutely no sense of a throwback in sight whatsoever. I don’t like films lazily resorting to the original’s techniques but I do like a film to be acknowledging the presence of the cinematic universe created before. The fact that RoboCop does not have directives irked me a bit. Would I trade this for originality? No. I’d rather have different film than a boring one which can’t seem to shake off its influences.
The film opens and begins with a monologue by Samuel L. Jackson. He also surfaces a few times in between. The MGM logo gets his take on the lion’s roar and he ends it with a rant which includes the word “motherf***er”, delivered in the coolest way he always delivers it in.
I said this is the kind of remake I like. I did not say love. This is only because I feel there is room for more. I’m leaving the love for the sequel, which I hope gets the green light soon. If we get a terrific sequel, which provides more insight into the character and offers a powerful villain, this film will look better than it does now. For a dark knight to arrive, Batman has to begin. This is one franchise, the expansion of which I would be looking forward to. As a set up, RoboCop is great. It is engaging and interesting in more ways than one. It is not a dumb action movie, which it easily could have been. There is more to like here than expected and quite a few things to love.