The other remake I watched this week, after the Evil Dead debacle, was the new Robocop. Lacking the over-the-top violence and comic book nature, not to mention the skewering social commentary of the original, there’s not a lot to redeem this film. And I feel sorry for viewers who come to this one first without having seen the original.
Someone once said, who cares if they do a remake, we’ll always have the original? And while that’s true, I think if you are going to do a remake or reboot, maybe expand on the original concept, make it bolder, smarter…
Unfortunately, this one doesn’t do that.
From the fact that they don’t go after the hard R rating that the original had, settling instead for the teen audience, a lot of whom probably didn’t know there was an original… that tells you right away that the over-the top violence and gore will be absent to the fact that with a cast that includes Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Joel Kinnaman, Jay Baruchel (not to mention Lost Girl’s K.C. Collins) every single actor is squandered.
The story is rehashed in a new way, but still recognizable, good cop Alex Murphy is wounded in an attack (though this time around it is nowhere near as brutal as in the first film) and Omni Consumer Products (OCP) has found a loophole to get robots/drones onto the streets of America to fight crime… through a cyborg creation, this time sprayed black to make him more tactical (really?!?).
When things start to go awry, and Murphy’s memories start to overwrite his current assignment, OCP tries to pull the plug, before the trail leads back to them, but Murphy comes after them on a slick-looking motorbike and a couple of dangerous firearms.
My favorite part of the film, was picking out Toronto. It just didn’t work for me, I didn’t care about a single character in the film, which seems wrong, because you should hate OCP, you should be rooting for Murphy, and you should be shocked when he’s almost killed before he dons the robo-suit.
And honestly, this Detroit looks way too clean to have the kind of crime rate that would require a robotic cop. In the original it almost seemed like a battlefield, and it felt grimy and dirty… this one is too nice looking.
The social commentary, and the news casts are completely gone, replaced by Samuel L. Jackson doing his best Bill O’Reilly rant for the camera… As much as I love Sam, it’s not enough.
I wanted to get into this one, I wanted to like it, but nothing seemed to work. Kinnaman seemed miscast, but it may just be the fact that his character isn’t fleshed out, or giving any real stakes.
There was nothing engaging about this world at all, and I walked away severely disappointed. Yes, there is some great VFX, and there’s even a musical call back to Basil Poledouris’ original theme music, and they even throw in a throwaway of “I’d buy that for a dollar,” but just a huge disappoint me.
Skip this one, and watch the original again.