(Scored out of ten; below 5 = not worth seeing, 6 = ok, 7 = good, 8 = great, 9 = fantastic, 10 = next to perfect)
Not having seen the original Robocop I came into this version with fresh eyes, and I believe my experience was all the better for it. Director Jose Padilha’s reboot was not perfect by any means but it was a nice departure from the all too similar cgi fests audiences are accustomed to today. Mixing in deep character development, some intense visuals (those lungs!) and a fantastic thematic core that strikes a chord with those in the know of today’s political landscape. Throw in some solid performances all around and you have yourself a good time at the movies. Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Jay Baruchel, Abbie Cornish, Michael K Williams and Samuel L Jackson make up the main cast of the 2014 reboot.
Let’s begin with the good. As mentioned, “Robocop” is filled with a fantastic cast and they all do a pretty good job with the material. Kinnaman does a decent job as Alex Murphy in my opinion, his transition from undercover cop to dedicated father to mindless robot is a testament to his versatility. While his performance won’t blow anybody away he gives more than a serviceable performance. Abbie Cornish is not given much as Clara Murphy but she does play the concerned wife and mother quite convincingly. Michael Keaton and Jackie Earle Haley do their characters justice but they just were not all that menacing and in all fairness the writing did not ask them to be. This is one of the main concerns I had with the film but we will get into that later.
The real standouts of the supporting cast however are Oldman and Jackson. Both turn in stellar performances. Gary Oldman’s turn as Dr. Dennett Norton was the heart of the movie in my eyes. He starts off with pure dedication in his sights only to see his passion turn to overzealous corruption, it is quite an arc. Sam brings his usual “badassery” to the plate and provides the film with the majority of its laughs. Acting as the voice of the public Jackson’s Pat Novak is meant to mirror the corrupt news networks of today. Choosing to show only the images that help push whatever agenda the network is currently aligned with. Sam Jackson does a fantastic job imbuing the movie with a sense of humor while conveying real world issues.
The action scenes were few and far between but they were pretty good in comparison to the standard movie fare. Each action beat was up close and personal, giving me great claustrophobic sense. It made me feel like the action was taking place right in front of me. The way Murphy was torn into in certain scenes was quite brutal but incredibly enrapturing. While not as bombastic as the end sequence of “The Avengers” the few fight sequences we got were a pleasure to see.
The most intriguing part of the movie had to be the overarching theme of political corruption and propaganda media. This is especially relevant to our modern society and Padilha does a fantastic job bringing these issues to life on screen.
Finally, we move on to the negatives. While I did not find a ton of flaws with the film there were a few things I took issue with, one being the aforementioned lack of menace. There is no real villain in the film, unless you count every day crime. Keaton and Haley do emerge as a threat at the tail end of the movie but even than there purpose wasn’t entirely benevolent, just really selfish. Aside from that, an additional action scene would have been appreciated just to show off a bit more of what Murphy was capable of. Had these two issues been addressed I would be completely satisfied.
For those looking for an action film with some intelligence look no further than Robocop. Jose Padilha manages to inject some incredibly relevant social commentary in a film most wrote off as a cheap cash grab. Robocop offers some solid performances by the majority of its cast and should leave audiences thinking about our current situation. All in all I give Robocop a big 7.5 out of 10. It was a really enjoyable film.