RoboCop

Movie:  RoboCop

Rating:  2 1/2 (out of 5)

Review:  It is always a perilous venture to remake a movie that was a critical and commercial success, as was the 1987 film RoboCop starring Peter Weller.  The new version tries mightily by putting a fresh spin on the story, and employing better special effects than were possible 27 years ago, but ultimately this RoboCop falls short.

The story takes place in 2028, and crime is rampant.  Mega-corporation Omnicorp is lobbying the U.S. Congress to overturn the Dreyfus Act which restricts armed robots from being employed in the United States for military or police duties.  Omnicorp does its best to demonstrate the value of using their robots by putting on a demonstration in Tehran known as Operation Freedom.  The robots, big and small, seek out and riddle all terrorists that dare to oppose them in an impressive show of force.  Despite this success, Congress insists on a human touch for law enforcement.  So when Officer Murphy is seriously injured, Omnicorp steps in and saves his life by inserting his broken body into a metal torso and creating – RoboCop.  The mechanized man of war starts out impressively cleaning up the streets of Detroit (aka “Murder City”), but Murphy’s human brain keeps bringing up clues to the day he was injured, and RoboCop becomes increasingly unpredictable.  As Murphy unravels, so does the movie.

The cast is first rate, although the main guy playing Murphy the RoboCop (Joel Kinnaman from AMC’s The Killing) lacks sufficient charisma to carry the movie.  Murph’s wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) is attractive and supportive of her policeman husband.  Dr Norton (Gary Oldman) is the brains behind Omnicorp’s creation of the RoboCop prototype, and the conscience of the project.  Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) is the CEO of Omnicorp, a slick operator, and holds much of the plot together.  Rick Mattox (Jackie Earle Haley) is Omnicorps technical weapons expert and lacks scruples, decency and a few other human qualities.  Then there is the recurring TV show “The Novak Faceoff”, starring Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson), who periodically provides lurid updates to the public on the RoboCop project.

Anyone familiar with the original RoboCop will recognize the familiar elements of the story.  There are enough differences to give it a face lift, but it doesn’t really take off on its own.  Jackie Earle Haley taunts Murphy as being the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, and even plays the song, “If I Only Had a Heart”.  But that what this movie is lacking, a heart.  Just once I wanted RoboCop to confront a bad guy and say, “Your move, creep”!  Keaton and Oldman give yeoman efforts, but ultimately can’t quite give this movie the spark it needed.  Basically, it seemed like we were watching a special effects driven Xbox game.

Huh?  What the ….:  A key element of the story is an explosion witnessed by Officer Murphy, but later on RoboCop is able to generate that explosion from his data banks.  The glitch is that there should not be a memory of an explosion where Murphy not only sees the explosion, but also himself at the site of the explosion.

Actress to Watch:  It was nice to see Aimee Garcia (a recurring character from the Dexter TV series) have a role in this movie.

Dialogue Nugget:  Samuel L. Jackson finally managed to work in his trademark M-F word at the end of the movie.

Post Credits Stuff:  Nada

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