Saturday, 8 February 2014

Film Review: RoboCop

First we had The Karate Kid, then Total Recall and now this; RoboCop, the 21st Century remake.

A direct remake of the 1987 sci-fi classic of the same name, RoboCop, the 2014 edition, is shiny and flashy, but instantly forgettable and illicits a swift shrug of the shoulders, accompanied by an abrupt "meh".

Set in the year 2028, RoboCop is about a multi-national corporation, OmniCorp, who are determined to implement robot drones in law enforcement roles across America, thus, widening their profit margin.

In order to navigate a bill that prohibits such, they take a recently disabled detective, strap some robotic arms on him and wheel him into the line of duty. By marrying a human consciousness with futuristic robot tech, OmniCorp have successfully found a loophole in the new law. Except, controlling their new street enforcer is not as straight-forward as they thought.

First off, let's deal with the actors in this film. The lead role of RoboCop himself is filled by Joel Kinnaman, whose past credits include Safe House and The Darkest Hour (yes, I did have to look it up on IMDB). Kinnaman, it appears, took to the role of playing a robot too literally and decided to do so throughout the entire film, regardless of whether he was a robot on-screen or not at that point.

Maybe that appears a tad harsh, but I'm not exaggerating when I say I never once sympathised or generally cared for his character in this film. His acting wasn't aided by the flat script, but he was still pretty wooden regardless. His wife, played by Abbie Cornish, was a lot more relatable and an underused emotional anchor throughout.

Samuel L. Jackson is also present for one purpose only; exposition! I'm not kidding when I say that is all he does. I can understand using Jackson to provide the introductory exposition, but the film kept cutting back to him again and again, effectively punctuating the narrative with a big fat sign that read "I'm back bitches, time for some more exposition!" It's a very lazy way of laying out what is happening in the story without needing to invest too much screen time on it.

Keaton and Oldman were the first two positives I noted with RoboCop. First off, Keaton was great as the shady OmniCorp CEO that you know better than to trust. He's slimy, but still charming, and great at it. Also, Oldman fitted into the morally-sensitive scientist role well, and was possibly the most likeable and relatble character in the whole film.

Something that really struck me about RoboCop was how unfocused the story was; what moral or lesson the film was trying to establish was utterly lost underneath messy action scenes (more on that later) and lots of treading water. Was the movie trying to satirise modern technological culture? Was it trying to comment on the negative aspects, or promote American gun-culture and military involvements overseas? I just couldn't make sense of it. There were a lot of contrasting or conflicting opinions floating around for it to feel cohesive.

The dialogue in this movie is awful, and not in an endearing way that makes you secretly love it either. It is just bad, full-stop. It's things like this that really threw me out of the experience, along with the jarring action scenes. Coupled with the terrible dialogue, the action scenes are incredibly messy and confusing. It doesn't make for an enjoyable, kick-ass action movie. The suits, guns and future tech all looked cool, but if you can't frame an action scene in a way that makes in comprehensible for the audience, that all counts for squat.

Also, the story is very predictable. Every single plot element is easy to guess and by-the-book. There are no surprises or interesting twists to keep the audience hooked.

The Verdict: 4/10

Yawn. This muddled remake never capitalises on the murky moral areas associated with tech/humanity narratives. It's dull, messy and the action sequences are loud, shaky and jumbled. The acting talent (Keaton/Oldman/Jackson) is utterly wasted on a by-the-numbers plot that takes forever to get nowhere. Like Total Recall before it, you'll forget forget about RoboCop almost instantly. Time to take this one back to the shop, it's broken.

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