Thursday, 6 February 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: ROBOCOP (2014)



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In future the world’s crime is being fought not by man but robots. Only USA, the world’s greatest supplier of police robots, remains “robophobic”.  OMNI CORP, the supplier of robot technology for the world, will do anything to win the American market. Even if this requires to make their robots more human…

When cop named Murphy is critically injured OMNICORP brings him back to life, turning him into the weapon of propaganda to change the law and allow robots to patrol American streets. But Murphy still loves his wife and son. With every fibre of his remaining soul he will be clutching to the slipping away pieces of his humanity.

It’s a recent fashion in Hollywood to entrust the remakes of great old action films to art house directors who can give a new flavour to the old story. Brazilian director Jose Padilha, whose most successful film Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (have been nominated to Oscars but did not quite made it) examines the influence of media, police and politicians on society so it is no great surprise  that he was chosen as the next ROBOCOP director. The original ROBOCOP in its time was labeled as “FACIST MOVIE FOR LIBERALS” by it’s own producer. The modern ROBOCOP is a less political story of a good man trapped in an impossible circumstances and his fight for remaining human being inside him.

The good news is that ROBOCOP delivers on its promise of a modern remake with believable characters and interesting conflict. But is it an entertaining film? At least the final act of it is.

Instead of filling the film with action the writers focused on the inner conflict of ROBOCOP, the part that was completely missing from the original. How does a man react when he realizes that his previous life is over and now  he is nothing but a machine designed to hunt down criminals? I do not mind a human conflict, but the structure and functioning of this ROBOCOP’s body was over explained. We do not need to know what vitamins he is taking, how do they put him into sleep, and what makes him such a good soldier. Show don’t tell - this is the rule of every writer, and ROBOCOP writers just told us too much. All the details we are given are designed to make the technology more believable. It is annoying instead.

Forget brain surgeries and fighting simulators. Give me something real! I missed more scenes of Robocop bonding with his family. I wanted a least one decent car chase (ROBOCOP has a fabulous bike, why not to put it to some use!) Give me at least one great villain to hate!

The idea of Murphy solving his own murder is cool, but this is a puzzle for a three year old.

On the bright side the new ROBOCOP is a thinking person's action movie. We do have a chance to place ourselves in Murphy’s shoes. We don’t just sympathize,  but identify with him. Gary Oldman  is outstanding in the role of a good intentioned man whose ambitions lead him too far down the dark path. Michael Keaton is a very likable villain. What he does make perfect sense. But he is the real robot in this story, without compassion and only dollars shining in his eyes.

The ongoing theme of the movie is how a living person cannot achieve great heights without putting his soul and a heart into it, and that having a human soul is much more important than a human body.


In the end I would like to mention the Samuel L. Jackson cameo as a talk show pro-robot presenter. His outbursts in the beginning , middle and the end of the film took enormous amount of screening time and completely irrelevant to the story. Here is something that should have ended up on the cutting floor. This would have made for a much tighter and more focused movie.

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