When I saw that Robocop had been remade (or rebooted maybe?) my feeling was one of apathy. I have seen the original film quite some time ago now and for sure I wondered why they would remake something that is a shade over 25 years old, but I certainly wasn’t up in arms as if it was blasphemy – ultimately it is just another product to be sold and brand recognition is going to give you a good base to your marketing. This is also the reason it appears to have been remade – because the target audience really isn’t anyone over 25 years old.
The plot will be familiar to anyone who has seen the original film (and if you haven’t, you should) as we have a cop, near death, selected for a program of integrating robot drones with organic (human) material to make it more acceptable to be on the streets of the US as law enforcement. As a basic plot it has lots of opportunity for commentary, color, fun and excitement, because this is what the original had in spades. It starts well and it looks good enough to win me over early on and I did think “this is actually okay” – for a while. As the film went on, I was surprised by how little of everything there was below the surface. There was no commentary or satire in here, despite it being a massive open goal in terms of relevance today. However, this wasn’t as big a problem as the fact that there seemed to be no heart or spark to the film either; the plot felt flat, there was almost no sense of fun to it and for all the gun play, there was really no tension or excitement to it. Ignore the original, even on its own terms as a generic sci-fi action movie, it still didn’t work.
The effects and the production standards are high as one would expect, but director Padilha really doesn’t bring much grit or energy to the film. The focus seems to be all about making a safe product with no rough edges – and in this regard it achieves its goal, just making it bland as a result. The lead actor fits that mould and Kinnaman doesn’t make too much of an impression. This is perhaps not a huge surprise but it is a surprise to find that Oldman, Keaton and Jackson all are pretty much by the numbers too. Keaton in particular is no Ronny Cox and he never convinces. Oldman is at least reliable while Jackson is fun but has too little time and context to make it impact the wider film. Supporting turns from faces such as Jean-Baptiste, Williams and Dexter’s Garcia all provide distraction but are not used much beyond that. Haley is a good presence but not given the space to have real teeth.
Generally the film is bland and quite dull. It ticks its way through the plot checkboxes without ever really having much in the way impact, fun, thrills, satire or anything really. It is a product designed to sell, primarily off the back of the famous established brand, but also off the fact that there is really nothing in here that would offend any potential customers – the downside of this is of course that there is really nothing to be excited about either.
6 out of 10 stars