Let me go on record by saying when I initially heard that this movie was being made, I hated the idea. I hated it because I hate that every time I look, movies that are barely 20 years old are being remade and are done so in a horrible fashion and I think I can count on one hand how many have been made that are good. We all can sit here and complain about how Hollywood has run out of ideas and that this is why a lot of movie remakes are bad but that is for another time.
As a matter of fact, my thought was if the creators didn’t have a crap load of criminals shooting up Murphy and blowing his hand off, I was going to hate it and that was it and when I heard the change being made to Murphy’s death scene, I was ready to throw a chair.
So much for that.
One of my biggest concerns with this movie was how would Jose Padilha could go about making this better than the original and let’s be honest; the first one wasn’t a masterwork. If anything it was a product of its time. A great popcorn flick and mostly memorable due to the over the top violence as directed by Paul Verhoeven. But back then, the movie in my young eyes was the gun violence and a whimsical look into the future as a lot of what made the original was still steeped in far flung sci-fi fantasy. Also looking back, it was a movie slightly ahead of its time as it was about the fall of Detroit and the usage of cybernetics in humans and that is what leads us to this remake.
What was then considered, sci-fi whimsy is now science fact fact. As the movie opens, we are given the theme of a not too distant future of what we as a country must do to protect our soldiers in war torn areas of the world. To cut down causalities we send in droids and drones to do the dirty work that humans have done for centuries and the question is asked, if we are doing that for our troops abroad, what about here at home? We are also presented with the theme of getting humans to cope with lost limbs as they are given new cybernetic ones and the psychological issues that comes with humans parts being replaced with metal ones. That is when the next theme of the movie presents itself. How to protect our own citizens with a ‘face they can trust’ inside of a machine especially in American areas just as war torn as some of the countries we make it our business to protect. Another theme is how does a business make their bottom line while winning the trust of America and spy on them at the same time but do so because it’s what helps us sleep at night.
Enter Alex Murphy; balls to the wall cop and family man. And if you have seen the original, you more or less know the story. Now I know some of you want to get some more of the blow by blow of how this compares to the original and the main reason why I won’t give too much detail is because a lot of us are going in with low expectations and it’s one of those rare times I really urge viewers to see for themselves. My opinion of this is that Jose Padilha did a great job in the remake and that he set a goal to give us a similar story to the original with a lot of the elements from the first, but without the camp and believe it or not without the gore. This was not a lazy attempt in retelling a story like what happened with another Verhoeven movie, Total Recall, but a story that really makes you think about all the ramifications of real world technology and security and yes, the theme of family is also present. This movie really pushes home the question of how much can man meld into machine and still retain his soul without losing sight on who he is? There were times I had some issues with the pacing especially early on leading up to Murphy becoming Robocop but once that was done, the movie gathered steam and kept moving. There were still a lot of nods to the original without becoming too distracting such as the ED-209 and of course “I’ll buy that for a dollar” and others sprinkled throughout.
In my opinion, I enjoyed the acting from both Joel Kinnaman as Robocop, Gary Oldman as Dr. Norton and shockingly even Michael Keaton as a BAD GUY for once was a great sight! Also while I thought Abbie Cornish was serviceable and wished for a little more screen time from Michael K. Williams, Jackie Earle Haley was a bit meh for me. And nope I won’t say anything about Samuel L. Jackson as you just have to see for yourself!
Overall, this is one of the rare films that I think is better than the original. What it lacked in the sheer violence from 80’s it makes up for showing us a world that we aren’t too far from now and asking some tough questions that we as a world we will have to answer soon than we did back in 1987 and of course, if nothing else a modern take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
This movie gets a 3.5 out of 5.