Oh. My. God. Samuel L. Jackson has HAIR! Mind blown!

Featuring

Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy/Robocop
Gary Oldman as Dr. Dennett Norton
Michael Keaton as Raymond Sellars
Samuel L. Jackson as Patrick Novak
Abbie Cornish as Clara Murphy
and Jackie Earle Haley as Rick Mattox

In future Detroit, police corruption, crime and a lack of employment is forcing the place to the brink. Well, isn’t that a convenient prophesy? It’s already happening, since the City of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2013. So using the powers of foresight, Detroit is little changed in 2028 with corrupt cops and gun runners rampaging through the city and nobody brave enough to take them on.

Meet Alex Murphy, a good, hard charging Detroit cop with a young family on the trail of a gun runner but is prevented from meting out justice by his dirty colleagues who conspire to kill him in a bomb attack. Alex isn’t killed, but is so critically injured that there’s really not much that can be saved. Instead, Omnicorp, the archetypical evil capitalists trying to get their robots into the American market via subterfuge are able to convince Mrs Murphy that they can save her husband as long as she consents to them experimenting upon him.

While Robocop is a decent action and science fiction movie on the surface, with robots (duh), guns, explosions and cool futuristic technological advances reminiscent of Deus Ex Human Revolution, its core is ultimately an attempt at satire against American corporate, military and political culture. It even asks the same questions Deus Ex does about personal control, corporatisation of people as a resource, the struggle between man and machine and transhumanism.

As Alex Robocop Murphy’s development and adjustment to being a talking head with a robot body continues, we’re pulled in and out of various places, the Chinese Omnicorp factory, Detroit and the studio of the Novak Element where Samuel L. Jackson does his best impression of Bill O’Reilly. Actually, one thing that appears out of place here is that Omnicorp would still be building stuff in China in 2028. Surely, Detroit, as dilapidated as it is shown in Robocop would be far cheaper a source of labour by that time?

Unfortunately, I think that the movie tries to do too much with its screen time. It’s not overly long, more along the lines of overly ambitious, turning something that could have been tightly edited and well paced into something that’s mediocre and jarring. Take for example the Novak Element scenes. At a glance, it appears to be trying to get the audience to understand just what corporate lobbying and biased media can do to public opinion. Unfortunately, because whoever’s making the movie paid Samuel L. Jackson, they had to get their money’s worth and having him take the stage instead of Robocop during quite large portions of the movie made me wish that I had to take a leak at that point in time.

I’m not prepared to say Robocop is a bad movie. It’s not. Obviously, the writers and directors had a vision and I can see where it was all supposed to be going. But I get the feeling they didn’t quite pull it off. They tried to stuff too much into a box that wasn’t big enough and they didn’t manage to seal it up properly, resulting in little, but important things falling out the seams. Make of the movie what you will, as there’s still plenty of action and shots of Robocop kicking arse, while the philosophical debate the movie is trying to present rages on behind the scenes. It’s up to you whether you want to take notice of the intellectual stuff.

Rating

A reboot that is too busy with deciding what it wants to grow up to be, but still very watchable.

Should I watch this?

If you have kids who like robots and cops, take them along. You can stare at Samual L. Jackson’s haircut while watching this and wonder where it came from.

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