RoboCop (M)

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Review byMatthew Turner6/02/2014

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 118 mins

Jose Padhila's RoboCop remake remains watchable thanks to strong performances and pacey direction but it fails to improve on the original film in any significant way and is ultimately rendered toothless by its 12A certificate and an underwhelming final act.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jose Padhila, RoboCop is a remake of Paul Verhoeven's classic 1987 sci-fi thriller. Set in 2028, the film stars Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy, a Detroit cop and loving family man who's seriously injured when he's caught in a car explosion organised by vicious crime boss Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow). However, help is at hand in the form of multinational conglomerate OmniCorp, whose CEO (Michael Keaton as Raymond Sellars) is searching for a suitable subject to help sway public opinion in favour of a robotic police force.

When Alex's wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) gives her consent, robotics genius Dr Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) transforms Alex into a part-man, part-machine supercop. With RoboCop operational on the streets, public opinion quickly rallies behind him, but Alex's emotional state begins to override his programming and soon he's at serious risk of being shut down.

The Good
To be fair, the performances are excellent: Kinnaman does a solid job as Murphy (though he doesn't have the haunted quality of Peter Weller) and Gary Oldman is superb as Norton. There's also strong support from Cornish, Keaton, Jay Baruchel (as an OmniCorp marketing guy), Michael K Williams (as Murphy's partner), Jennifer Ehle (as a hard-edged OmniCorp exec) and Samuel L Jackson as a robot-loving TV pundit, while Jackie Earle Haley is suitably slimy as a soldier with a grudge against RoboCop.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the film fails to improve on the 1987 original in any significant way - even the CGI effects are occasionally dodgy, particularly in the car explosion that injures Alex. Similarly, none of the fight scenes are any fun and the action sequences are essentially like watching someone else play a first person video game shoot-em-up - even a climactic RoboCop vs robots fight is poorly staged and features jarringly awful CGI.

On top of that, barring a brief prelude with robots policing Iraq, the script adds nothing of value to the original film, stripping out both the violence (the original film was an 18, the remake is a 12A) and the dark edged satire in favour of attempting to up the sentimentality factor; it also severely bungles the third act, with a climax that is both poorly written and extremely underwhelming. Finally, as if all of that wasn't bad enough, there's an unintentionally hilarious visual moment where it looks like Alex's head is attached to a pair of giant pink testicles.

Worth seeing?
The performances ensure that RoboCop remains watchable, but it's ultimately something of a disappointment thanks to a sloppy script, tedious action sequences and some dodgy CGI effects. Re-watch the original film instead.

Film Trailer

RoboCop (M)
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Content updated: 26/02/2020 20:49

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