Robocop (2014) – Reviewed

Single Sentence Review: A cop is forced to become a robot, closely paralleling the acting.

Robocop Review Poster

Robocop, the 1987 cult classic, is remade here with a slick video game interface and injected with political posturing.

Alex Murphy is destroyed and rebuilt again, but not before a lengthy and necessary introduction. One of the problems with a remake, is that the new world has to be distinguished from the original. In this world, corporate interests are out of control, but not with the same hyperbole as the original Robocop series. Samuel Jackson fills in as a news "journalist" who in actuality is a mouthpiece for Omnicorp, a maker of military grade robotics. The metaphor is not subtle. Corporations want to replace people with robots, and will spend any amount of money to overturn the laws against this.

The first time Robocop (and the action bar) leaps thirty feet over a barricade, we feel excited. But eventually the surprise simmers down to a guy shooting other guys while running through tunnels. It’s as if all the intellectual capital was spent in giving Murphy a shocking new physiology, and there was none left for visualizing action.

The movie is supposed to be about Murphy reconciling his complete lack of control as Robocop with his desire for a home life with his wife and son. Although Mrs. Murphy (Abbie Cornish) turns in a decent performance, Murphy himself is stiff even before the robotics. I enjoyed Joel Kinnaman’s performance in the murder series The Killing (U.S. version), but the directing here didn’t make good use of his talents. This theme continues, with a desperate and overplayed Gary Oldman as the scientist inventor who maintains Murphy.

The film is kept on budget and prepped for slickness by sticking motion graphics on top of everything. We see what Robocop sees too often, and it becomes mundane. We watch him extract vital signs, calculate trajectories and scan faces over and over. A first person shooter gone soft.

Spoilers

The film suffers from weak directing, underutilization of strong actors, and over reliance on motion graphics. It’s a fun trip down nostalgia lane for fans, but not strong enough on its own to qualify as great.

Plot: 2.7
Directing: 3.3
Cinematography: 3.2
Acting: 2.6
Sound: 3.0
Film Score: 3.0 (Out of 5)
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