Some spoilers ahead.
This is not Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop from 1987. I loved that film, and it was amazing but this is a completely different movie. Comparisons are unavoidable, because it’s a reboot. The story is a little familiar though.
José Padilha directs this new version of Robocop from a screenplay from Joshua Zetumer. The focus of this story is a little more political, a little less violent and overall tries to address the larger picture. The opening scene is a bunch of american drones in Teheran, Iran bringing out entire families from their homes searching for criminals and weapons. ED 209 might look a lot better than in the original, but the fact that there’s tons of them from the start almost makes it part of the background.
Regarding the story of Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), he’s still the hero cop and family guy. The transformation of Murphy into his cybernetic self is a little more humanized, but less exciting. You can’t just reveal stuff, you have to play up to it. Doctor Norton (Gary Oldman) is trying to keep Alex human… initially. Most of Omnicorp just wants a machine with a face.
Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) is the head of Omnicorp. He’s more business man than villain, but that turns out to be bad enough – if not really evil. Sellars is the one that pushes the Doctor to do whatever needs to be done to Murphy to get him to behave as a machine. Oldman’s Dr. Nocton is a very interesting character, but a bit contradictory. For all his morals and his ideals against military projects, he’s eventually (but too easily) convinced into operating Alex so that the machine is actually on the driving seat.
Claire Murphy (Abby Cornish) is a much stronger character in this film. She signs over Alex’s body to Omnicorp hoping to have her husband back. In a different approach, Murphy gets to interact with his family in the beginning. Eventually, Claire will have to start fighting for the right to see Alex.
When Murphy finally becomes (or is turned into) Robocop, the action scenes become plagued with targeting reticles. Technically the old movie also had them from time to time, but in this version they’re a bit more intrusive. They also happen really quick so they don’t seem to have as much kick as the 1987 version. Violence feels toned down although there’s plenty of gunfire.
In parallel to the main plot, we get Pat Novak (Samuel Jackson) star of the news show The Novak Element doing a biased report on all events turning them around to support his agenda to allow drones into US territory.
Not heavily recommended. Perhaps when it hits Netflix. It’s not great, but it’s watchable. It has a couple of nods to the original one that make you yearn a bit for the funny sarcasm. Feels like a TV version of the original film.
Highs: Gary Oldman doesn’t disappoint as Dr. Norton. They do a little homage to the original score as well as the original font of the title. Claire Murphy figures a lot more as a character in this version, facing down both Omnicorp and Robocop to get to Alex. The version of Robocop’s armored body in silver that we get to see first emulates the old version from 1987.
Lows: Lacks the epic factor as well as the fun one. Action scenes feel small and lack excitement. Robocop looks a lot more like a suit than a machine when they decide to go for full black. I didn’t like the Robo-bike at all, and he spends a lot of time riding it. Michael K. Williams is underused as Officer Lewis. Jackson’s Novak character is not terrible, but steals too much time away from the main storyline. The ending is completely anti-climatic.
That will do for now.
(Sources: Robocop Official Site)