Roboflop sets the bar lower than the original

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The remake of the 1987 film RoboCop falls flat in every way. Director José Padilha does not focus on the features of an action movie that keep movie-goers captivated.

Mike Colonna, Contributing Writer

RoboCop proves to be an unsuccessful science-fiction remake of the 1987 Paul Verhoeven film of the same name.  While the film makes some new, bold choices, many of the same plot elements are used, but the movie is hardly a remake of the original.  It is a reinterpretation in response to everything that has changed in American life over the past 27 years.  RocoCop addresses and exploits new threats, and offers a glimpse of where life may be heading.

The movie is set in Detroit, year 2028, and chronicles a short-tempered cop named Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman).  After suffering devastating injuries due to an explosion, Murphy is transformed into a cyborg at the hands of OmniCorp, the multinational conglomerate responsible for manufacturing cybernetic police force prevalent throughout the world.

This decision, to have Alex live as a cyborg, is a compromise to settle the controversy over whether or not to have robots patrol the streets as law enforcers.  Although practically every other country has chosen this path, the American people want to be ensured that whoever wields the power of life and death has a conscious mind.   However, Alex’s humanity compromises the machine’s programming, and he struggles to retain his human identity while OmniCorp uses him to manipulate public opinion.

The 1987 RoboCop was more concerned with crime and a dystopian future, filled with dark, witty humor.  In contrast, in the 2014 version, Director José Padilha explores themes relating to the nature of being human, artificial intelligence, and freedom without the bits of satire that made contributions to the original’s success.

Although the ideas that RoboCop explores are intriguing and relevant, Padilha fails to create an entertaining, energetic action movie and instead produces a rather cumbersome character study.  Alex struggles to hold on to his human side, and although meant to be robotic, Kinnaman’s performance is too dull for viewers to enjoy some of his witty, satirical lines, copied from the original script.  Action scenes are too few and too spaced-out, contrary to the high-intensity film it was made out to be.

Ultimately, Padilha is too focused on connecting to viewers emotionally, instead of making it a modernized, visually appealing, and vibrant action movie.  RoboCop has the right ideas, and strives to add commentary about military industrial complex and the war on terror, but it does not stack up to Verhoeven’s original.  Ironically, the attempt to sophisticate the movie with a complex lead character backfired, sidetracking it from the action movie it was supposed to live up to.