Friday, March 14, 2014

RoboCop (2014)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

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.

After a flashback from his bombing accident, Alex uses his new equipment to track down and kill Vallon and his men at Vallon’s secret hideout. But there’s something fishy about Vallon’s last stand. Vallon was ready and waiting for Alex, because someone warned him, so Alex returns to the police station for more answers.

Eventually, Andre and John reveal their secrets as dirty cops. They’re on Vallon’s payroll, and both men sabotaged Alex’s attempted murder case and Jack’s shooting to erase any suspicions for Vallon as the prime suspect. And Chief Dean joins the growing list of informants for Vallon, because she’s the one, who warned Vallon about Alex’s raid. Alex forced a confession out of Dean at gunpoint, but Rick pulled the plug at the last second with the shutdown (whenever Alex crosses any lines, OmniCorp uses a shutdown button to stop him) button for Alex to prevent Chief Dean’s certain death.

But it’s not ever yet. Alex fights OminCorp’s mind control, and Sellars jumps into damage control mode. Sellars orders Alex’s death, because Sellars fears the repercussions for the American public knowing the truth about OmniCorp. Sellars wants to kill Alex, and Sellars will use the legacy of a “dead hero” to push his propaganda for robot soldiers on US soil. But Alex escapes his execution with some help from Dr. Norton.

Sellars is holding Clara and David hostage on the roof at OmniCorp. Alex is a broken mess after taking one too many bullets from Sellars’ drones. To make matters worse, Alex struggles to fight Sellars and his mind control device. Long story short, Alex’s programming influences his decisions, and Sellars is wearing a bracelet that prevents any harm. Sellars is about to pull the trigger to kill Clara and David, but Alex’s love for his family overcomes the odds. Alex’s fights Sellars and the mind control device, and Alex shoots and kills Sellars on the roof.

The corrupt dirty cops stuff feels so clich├ęd and redundant, and there’s no shock value for Andre and John as employees for Vallon, because RoboCop reveals the alliance in the early stages of the movie. But I’ll give RoboCop credit for the Chief Dean twist, because that’s a surprise I didn’t see coming.

The standoff on the roof? The sequence with Murphy fighting off the drones at OmnicCorp to save Clara and David features its fair share of thrills, but the standoff is predictable. You can see the happy ending with Alex fighting Sellars, and Alex’s reunion with his family coming from a mile away, but it’s a passable feel good moment.

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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