By Savannah Wood
It’s easy to get tired of Hollywood’s increasingly bankrupt originality. The ever-struggling film industry has been cranking out remakes, reboots, and adaptations with an alarming magnitude. So let’s kid ourselves–RoboCop’s purpose is to make money; but that doesn’t mean we can’t allow ourselves to sit back and enjoy it.
RoboCop revolves around the exploits of OmniCorp, a mega-corporation fronted by Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) that produces robo-security-drones, is yearning for the American market. Sellars and his team are trying to sway public opinion in the hopes that they’ll put pressure on Congress to repeal an anti-robot bill. Their ticket to a PR upgrade? RoboCop, AKA catastrophically injured Detroit detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), transmogrified into a human-robot hybrid by prosthetics/bio-mechanical specialist Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman). Murphy has his typical cop hero’s backstory–pretty wife, cute kid, a crime to avenge. There’s nothing exceptional or resonant about him; his purpose is mainly to be a sounding-board for Omnicorp’s gain (and the film’s overarching message). The reasoning behind RoboCop’s creation is logical; that it/he’s the perfect fusion of the efficiency of technology with the discretion and conscience of a human being. But, as you might expect, once the corporate vampires get too thirsty, things get out of hand.
It’s a very relevant and topical premise in today’s socio-political climate, in the wake of recent charged controversies over drones, the NSA, and the age-old anxiety of technology becoming too big for itself. This incarnation takes place in a more media-driven culture of immediacy and global-connectivity than its 80’s predecessor, and it toys around with the positive and negative sides of such a interconnected society. RoboCop delivers the thinly-veiled social commentary well, despite being anything but subtle–but with a movie called RoboCop, what would you expect?
Subtlety is thrown out the window from the get-go; it opens with an expositional news sequence starring Samuel L. Jackson as a media pundit, setting the tone for a satire-driven, politically relevant romp. Unfortunately, a big proportion of the rest of the film doesn’t live up to that expectation. Reboots and remakes have the tendency to take themselves too seriously. During the process of and modernization, something often gets lost along the way–a degree of self-awareness and heart that’s vaguely ironic in a film so focused on the thematics of the human spirit.
I think most people heading to the theater to see RoboCop aren’t expecting two hours of cinematic greatness or an existential meltdown, and they won’t receive either. Those who are going to be most satisfied will be those anticipating a good time, some fun action sequences, some video-game style gun-slinging. With those expectations, you won’t be disappointed. The CGI and whirring-hydraulics are impressive. It’s entertaining–and sometimes, that’s just what you need.
Starring Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley.