Film Review: RoboCop
10th February 2014
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★★★★☆The original 1987 Robocop by Paul Verhoeven was an extremely violent, bitingly funny satire on capitalist greed. I have to admit, this remake is more intent on having fun than engaging the viewer in a challenging discourse. But, in its favour, it really does know how to have fun. Though some will argue this is a watered-down RoboCop, and their argument isn’t without credence, as a work in its own right it still has a backbone thanks to a number of strong performances. Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha helms the film with a remarkable, almost belligerent confidence that becomes rather addictive. The pace pumps along as we see cop Alex Murphy (an excellent Joel Kinnaman) pursuing a dangerous crime ring. He then gets blown up and the robot-development arm of a multi-billion dollar corporation builds him a new body. After all this, he returns to the streets to fight crime. But his body isn’t the only thing that has changed. There are major differences between this and the original. This film removes the over-the-top gory violence and replaces it with more spectacular action (and trades in the 18 classification for a 12A). The drama is kept mostly within the science labs between Gary Oldman (science genius), Michael Keaton (Dangerous CEO) and Jennifer Ehle (cold-hearted corporate person). This trio, helped along with some enthusiastic input from Jay Baruchel as a marketing man, provide an endless watchable layer of menace to the whole thing. Oldman particularly deserves credit for demonstrating how a decent, kind man can merge into something rather terrifying. It is also to the film’s strength that it doesn’t push his character into an archetypal villain. I won’t ruin how the movie ends, but things aren’t as clear cut in this unnerving vision of the future.
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