I have seen the original "RoboCop" many times, that movie is a science fiction/pure action classic. Its a movie I find incredibly special. I never understood the need to remake it, when a remake of a classic film goes sour, don't the general public look down on the original? Why would a studio want that for a classic movie? No matter, I walked into this 2014 remake with an open heart and an open mind, just like I always do. After all, its pretty hard to mess up a story as straightforward as "RoboCop." A hard-boiled detective (Joel Kinnaman) is betrayed and left for dead by a criminal syndicate. Barely, he's alive, and his body is taken to OmniCorp and he the first ever person to be genetically attached to OmniCorp. In this update, Kinnaman's character has a family, and the dynamics between family and career is a major theme in this film, otherwise its a fairly faithful adaptation.
Problem number one: There are a couple glaring real-world issues layered into this film. I am getting to the point where I don't think I can stand anymore real-world issues popping up in action films. The action genre, of any genre, should be an escape. Am I right? There is a reason why the original "RoboCop" worked so well and so did "Prediator," "Die Hard," "Lethal Weapon," "Commando," and even "The Expendables" series. Those films keep the real world out of their story, if I wanted that stuff, I'd stay home and watch CNN instead of going to the movies. I know our nation has a big presence in the Middle East and that presence may hurt more than it helps, and I know many people around the world believe that our government is corrupt. So, do I really need a science fiction action remake to remind me of that? It gets too distracting after awhile, whats wrong with a little nonsense and fun? Why is that so hard to come by in action films today?
The action scenes are well-staged and are actually fun to watch most of the time, but it seems like a lot of it is borrowed from other movies, and that's a shame. Consider the scene where Kinnaman's character takes himself for a walk for the first time in his robot armor, it feels exactly like the Avatar running scene from the 2009 film. Consider the scene where RoboCop goes up against Maddox (Jackie Earl Haley) and a group of robot cops, as a last test before going out on his own. The scene looks exactly like the best action scenes from 2002's "Equilibrium." In fact, a lot of the films big ideas seem stolen from other movies besides the original the movie is trying to remake. I don't understand that this cast and crew had great material to work off of and they hardly utilized it.
The film features a great cast, aside from Haley and Kinnaman we got Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Michael K. Williams, Jay Baruchel and Jennifer Ehle. I don't think there is anything wrong with the cast, I think they do exactly what they were told to do. I was especially curious to see if Kinnaman could lead a major action film. If you're unfamiliar with Kinnaman, get on Netflix and watch all the seasons of "The Killing," he's easily the best part of that series and the series is pretty damn amazing. He's a great lead for a movie like this, I just don't think he has the best script to work with. I can say the exact same thing about the rest of the cast, yet they payoff with good work.
With great performances and some exciting action, I wish we got a better movie. I am glad it wasn't a complete embarrassment, and if you haven't seen it, I think its worth the big screen watch. You'll probably end up never watching it again, but its somewhat of a good watch. As Hollywood continues to churn out more and more remakes, as it seems inevitable at this point, I hope they start taking those remakes seriously. It is possible to pay homage to a classic while also making it something of a personal statement. I am waiting for someone to agree with me.
FINAL GRADE: C+