RoboCop is the story of a Detroit police officer that is severely injured in the line of duty and is re-made into a mechanical police officer, hence the titular RoboCop. This movie is a remake of the original RoboCop from 1987. Here we will keep any comparison of the two to a minimum. It is not fair to either movie to do so, but we must.
The original movie was a very violent film. When Kurtwood Smith (yes, Red Foreman) and his crew shot Alex Murphy in the original, the scene was incredibly violent. Even today it is a hard scene to watch. The way he is shot is systematic and brutal. The violence is very personal and it makes a statement. In this remade version, the violence is still there but it is not personal. It is big and glossy and has more in common with a movie like The Expendables, where everything is so over-the-top that it becomes comical.
As mentioned, the original movie was brutal in more ways than just violence. It portrayed a very real threat and showed Officer Murphy apprehending bad guys. The language was harsh and the criminals actions were even harsher. Not so in this movie. The ‘bad guys’ deal in very non-specific criminal behavior. We never know what they did to be labeled as bad. The original movie was clear and concise in why they were bad guys.
One thing that this new RoboCop has going for it is a great cast. The likes of Gary Oldman, Jackie Earle Haley and Michael K. Williams give the performance that is expected, which is to say that they are fantastic. For me, the shining star of this movie was Michael Keaton. As an actor, he can take very poor material and make it good, as he does here. While the marketing material does list Samuel L. Jackson as a star, his part in this film is minimal, as he is more Greek Chorus than character. As for lead actor Joel Kinnaman, his performance, while not bad, is very uninspired. It is sad that these fine actors’ talents were wasted on a script that was not even mediocre and full of cliches.
Much has been made about this movie’s rating being a PG-13, and many have questioned if that would hinder the quality of the movie. Let me say that a movie does not have to be rated R to be good. As a father, I applaud movies that are more family-friendly, while still being good. At the end of the movie, that is what really matters, was it good. In this case, no. It was not good. However, had it been rated R, that would not have made it any better.
It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not a good movie either. It feels like it was made for the 13 year old boy that likes to see things blow up, and does not care why.