Friday, March 14, 2014

RoboCop (2014)(Minor Spoilers Review)

**This review contains MINOR spoilers. No major character deaths, or reveals.**

I'll do a more thorough compare and contrast review with the original and the remake in the future, because I'm planning on a review series for every RoboCop film. It's similar to my Night Of The Demons and Silent Night, Deadly night review series, if you're wondering. Let's get to it. 

It’s 2028, and OmniCorp is on a mission to change the world. As the world’s largest supplier for robot soldiers and drones in the US military, OmniCorp launches a plan to use robots for crime fighting in the US, but strict laws prevent crime fighting robots in America. Senator Hubert Dreyfuss (Zach Grenier) dedicates his life to fighting OmniCorp, and their plans to use robots in the US. Senator Dreyfuss believes emotionless machines are untrustworthy in the field of battle, and the risk of a malfunctioning product will endanger the lives of innocent US citizens.

At OmniCorp’s headquarters in Detroit, OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) devises a plan to fight Senator Dreyfuss, and erase the stigma for dangerous robots. Sellars is making money overseas in wars and occupied countries, but he’s missing out on a big payday with no crime fighting robots on US soil.

Sellars pushes his team to come up with a solution. Liz Kline (Jennifer Ehle) is the head of OmniCorp’s legal affairs, and Tom Pope (Jay Baruchel) controls marketing, but OminCorp’s top sceintist, Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) doesn’t like the idea of crossing moral boundaries. Sellars plans to exploit a loophole in America’s robot laws (or the “Dreyfuss Act”)? Sellars wants to put a man inside a machine, but OmniCorp needs the right candidate, someone wholesome, a victimized hero for the people to rally behind and idolize. But Sellars and his team run into a serious of problems for the right candidate after a thorough search on a list of wounded soldiers and police officers.

Meanwhile, two Detroit detectives named Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) and Jack Lewis (Michael K. Williams) form an undercover team to infiltrate Antoine Vallon‘s (Patrick Garrow), a ruthless crime boss, empire. But Jack is stuck in a hospital bed after a fierce shootout with Vallon’s thugs. Alex is motivated by revenge, but Chief Karen Dean (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) warns Alex about the consequences for pursuing Vallon without the proper evidence to convict Vallon.

One night, Alex leaves his house to shut off the alarm on his car, but Alex triggers an explosion from a bomb, when he opens the door. A disfigured Alex has one shot at survival: OmniCorp. During his coma, Alex’s wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish) signs an agreement for Alex’s once in a lifetime procedure with Dr. Dennett leading the way. Alex has trouble adjusting to his new as a half-man, half-machine crime fighter, but more money is the  top priority for Sellars, and using Alex to change American public’s perception for robots. And Alex needs to sharpen his skills as an elite crime fighter, so he receives training from Rick Mattox (Jackie Earle Haley), OmniCorp‘s combat expert.

Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson) uses his show (The Novak Element) to push pro robot propaganda, and Novak is an important supporter for Sellars and his never ending mission to use robots in the US. Alex’s new life as a living, breathing crime fighting machine is full of obstacles. Alex is trying to balance his crime fighting duties, and his responsibilities as a father and a husband, and Alex honors his promise to Jack. During Alex’s search for a location on Vallon, Alex exposes corruption at the police station with a few tips from Detective Andre Daniels (K.C. Collins) and Detective John Lake (Daniel Kash), and Alex uncovers the truth behind OmniCorp’s plans for the future…….

Joel Kinnaman is solid in the leading role, and he deserves credit for a strong effort. The new look for RoboCop? Kinnaman sports a sleek look as a modernized version of RoboCop. He’s faster, and Kinnaman’s movements are more fluid. That’s a big difference, when you compare Kinnaman’s RoboCop to the clunky Robocop (i.e. Peter Weller and Robert John Burke) from the originals, but you have to expect some big changes for a modernized version.

Using black as a new color didn’t bother me at all, and you’ll see the original color, but vintage (using that word loosely) RoboCop‘s screen time is very limited. Also, don’t worry about the exposed human hand for Kinnaman. I’m mentioning the hand, because I vividly remember a lot of complaints for the human hand in various places on the internet. Trust me, you’ll barely notice the hand after a while, and it’s not a big deal.

Abbie Cornish is believable as the supportive wife. Jackie Earle Haley delivers an entertaining performance, as the tough and uncompromising trainer, and you’ll see a few funny moments during the little feud with Alex and Rick.

No real complaints about the veterans. Michael Keaton is a decent antagonist, as the greedy and two-faced corporate tycoon. Gary Oldman maintains a streak of reliable consistency  with another quality performance, and Samuel L. Jackson is a nice fit for the Pat Novak character. Novak is this obnoxious loudmouth (“Why is America so Robo-phobic?!?!”), who will do and say anything to push the robot movement, and Jackson delivers another one of his classic tirades during the finale.

Of course, the remake tries to explore the “Man VS Machine” dilemma, and the dangers of trusting an emotionless machine over a rational human being with feelings and reasoning. But the quandary never reaches thought-provoking levels, because the remake favors action and CGI, so the Man VS Machine stuff takes a backseat.

RoboCop is a harmless remake, but they stay in a safe zone here. You won’t see an effort to take any real risks, because RoboCop 2014 never reaches an embarrassingly awful low point. On the flip side of that, there’s no real attempt to create a different film with a bold vision. RoboCop 2014 is a safe and modernized version of the 1987 original, and the remake avoids a nomination for a spot in the Hall Of Shame for terrible remakes (i.e. A Nightmare On Elm Street 2010).

Die hard fans of the ‘87 original will nitpick and tear this one apart, but RoboCop 2014 is a decent action/sci-fi film. Director Jose Padilha deserves credit for a handful of slick and hard hitting action sequences, and the cast is rock solid, featuring a few noteworthy performances from the veterans (Jackson, Haley, and Oldman).

Is RoboCop 2014 perfect? No. Ten years from now, will RoboCop 2014 join a lengthy list of forgettable and harmless remakes? Yeah, there’s a good chance that’s going to happen. Still, RoboCop 2014 could’ve been a lot worse. I set the bar low for this one, but RoboCop 2014 earned a spot on my list of pleasant surprises for 2014, so I‘ll go with a positive score.

Rating: 5/10

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