In a future where America has invested so much money in the military that it can only afford one reporter for all mediums, and where cable producers are so distracted that Samuel L. Jackson somehow got his own talk show, one heavily armed cop will struggle to fight through emotionless acting to defeat his enemies. One. Taser. At a time.
In this 2014 Robocop reboot, Omnicorp (Skynet) has a monopoly on the robot crime fighting industry. So far they have produced two models that “protect” foreign countries from themselves. Now Omnicorp (Skynet) and its president, Sellars (Michael Keaton), want to place their tech among local law enforcement, essentially robbing ordinary citizens of the ability to flirt their way out of a speeding ticket. The public is against this. To win their support Sellars decides to add a little human to his lifeless creations. Luckily, the perfect candidate comes along just in time; Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a workaholic detective whose latest risky case lands him in critical condition. Sellars wants Alex for his program, and Alex’s wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish), wants him to not be dead so, after a little paperwork, Alex’s limbs are replaced with mechanical parts. He becomes capable of just about anything short of enjoying the company of others and stealth attacks. The rest of Robocop progresses in a downward spiral of marketing strategies, family troubles, and emotional theft.
Standing next to Alex throughout his entire non-organic life is Dr. Norton (Gary Oldman). When Omnicorp (…Skynet) figures out that a machine with feelings is too great of a liability, Sellars orders Dr. Norton to “find a solution”. Norton may lower Alex’s emotional spectrum to the barest minimum, but as he does so his own character goes in the opposite direction. The more stone-faced Alex becomes, the higher Norton’s blood pressure rises. He climbs through Robocop on a steady incline, gradually darkening the line between benefiting humanity and making a pile of cash. In contrast, Sellars is the same video-conference-loving money man through the entire movie (occasionally calling his staff on the phone just to direct them towards the screen for a quick chat). Sellars explodes with random bursts of emotion whenever the mood strikes. Everyone is a villain in Robocop, whether they’re yelling at a senator, yelling at staff, or yelling at security officials before gagging them with a taser.
This emotional game of checkers is about as far as Robocop gets towards being kind of interesting. The more prominent story is between who’s swaying the public polls and if the reporter had time to speak with Alex’s family today. Any chance this plot had of being complex is gradually erased as Alex gradually loses his emotions. No one wants to patiently watch a battle-ready, organic machine run smoothly. You don’t get a thrill from observing a scene like: The button was pushed, the coffee was brewed, and he enjoyed his soothing cup of Maxwell.
There’s nothing too special about Alex’s robot suit except that it comes apart to reveal his inner organs and seriously gross me out for longer than necessary. Nasty. His bike is pretty cool, I guess… It has lights on it. The mindless drones are something to be proud of, however, fitting a similar pattern to either Age of Ultron’s robots or Star Wars’ elephant tanks. Unfortunately we only see them for brief action sequences or in that one strategically placed glass box in Sellar’s office.
Robocop is definitely missing a few things on the entertainment scale. Firstly, the difference between emotion and feeling: Robocop (aside from the actual robotic cop) is punctured with emotion but, aside from Gary Oldman’s performance, it is not acted with feeling. The wife cries, the CEO yells, the marketing rep. is upbeat, and the bald military guy whose name you can’t remember acts like a bullying turd. Robocop is predictable and easily forgettable. There was nothing in it that wowed me so I’m sticking to a 4/10.