There's a robust, intelligent tone to this action remake that makes it continually intriguing, even if it's never properly exciting. The problem is that the characters are far too simplistic for us to care about, with moral dilemmas that are extremely cut and dried. Because the premise deals with several provocative themes, it wouldn't have taken much work to beef up the screenplay.
Set in the near future when American military robots patrol the world but are outlawed at home, the story centres on Omnicorp boss Sellars (Keaton), who is determined to sell his robots to the US market as police enforcers. So he decides to get around the law by putting a man inside a robot, drafting seriously injured Detroit cop Murphy (Kinnaman) as his guinea pig. Doctor Norton (Oldman) does an amazing job, building a machine around Murphy with extremely high technical capabilities. But Murphy can't help but worry about his wife (Cornish) and son, and he's obsessed with revenge over his attempted murder. So Norton is forced to use chemicals to suppress his emotions.
In other words, Murphy is actually more machine than man now, and operates at the whim of Sellars and his media spokesperson (Ehle), marketing nerd (Baruchel) and a rabid TV host (Jackson) to manipulate the US Congress to change the law. This greedy corporation gives the film a bite of satire, as does the issue of America's rampant willingness to brutally suppress anyone outside its borders. But without even a shading of complexity, the plot feels predictable and, frankly, rather dull. It's fun to watch everything happen, but our pulse rates never rise at all.
This certainly isn't the fault of the gifted cast members, who pour all kinds of detail into their one-sided characters. In this sense, Oldman has the most interesting role, since he's the only person who has to make any sort of moral decision. (Murphy's decisions are made by those drugging him and pulling the strings.) This means there isn't really anyone we can identify with. So even if the story's many ideas make us think, the film never gives us anything to chew on.
Run time: 102 mins
In Theaters: Friday 17th July 1987
Box Office Worldwide: $239.4M
Distributed by: Orion Pictures Corporation
Production compaines: Strike Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 51 Rotten: 7
IMDB: 7.5 / 10
Director: Jose Padilha
Producer: Marc Abraham, Brad Fischer, Eric Newman
Starring: Joel Kinnaman as RoboCop, Gary Oldman as Norton, Michael Keaton as Raymond Sellars, Abbie Cornish as Ellen Murphy, Jackie Earle Haley as Maddox, Michael K. Williams as Jack Lewis, Jennifer Ehle as Liz Kline, Jay Baruchel as Pope, Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Karen Dean, Samuel L. Jackson as Pat Novak, Aimee Garcia as Kim, Douglas Urbanski as Mayor Durant, John Paul Ruttan as David Murphy, Patrick Garrow as Antoine Vallon, K. C. Collins as Andre Daniels, WBBrown II as AC Freeman
As with his Formula One documentary Senna, filmmaker Asaf Kapadia cleverly uses archival footage to...
This declining franchise really needed a jolt to the head, but the producers disappointingly opt...
Resisting the temptation to capitalise on the camp value of these characters, Channing Tatum and...
Wacky enough to make us smile but never laugh out loud, this screwball comedy harks...
A relentless onslaught of violent action, this movie is notable mainly because there's a woman...
First-time feature filmmaker John Maclean takes a strikingly original approach to the Western, creating a...
Despite this being a film about Sherlock Holmes, the fact that it's not much of...
Both shameless and shamelessly entertaining, this relentlessly boyish movie carries on exactly as the TV...