Monday, 3 March 2014

'Robocop' Film Review

In 2028, conglomerate Omnicorp has developed a law enforcement robot soldier in use all over the world, but has been barred in the United States by the Dreyfus act due to the product lacking 'soul' and human judgment.

When detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is nearly killed by Antoine Vallon, a suspect he is chasing, Omnicorp CEA Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) and Dr Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) keeps him alive by fusing him with robot technology and trains him to become... Robocop.

Having not seen the original franchise, I watched the movie with an open mind and though it was gripping at times, generally felt 'seen before' and formulaic. The setup was somewhat slow and though it finally picked up with Robocop's release onto the streets, was held back by his almost always neutral to positive motives. 

Given the elegantly designed black robot suit, I would have assumed a much darker turn in the movie, which was not granted. The conflicting desires, emotions and question of human conscience vs robotic control were never quite fully explored, that being the most interesting of Alex Murphy's character, thus lacking depth and complexity. The same could potentially be said for supporting characters Clara Murphy and Dr Dennett Norton, both of which lacked strength in their role.

Thematically, the movie attempts some level of meaning and thought, but unfortunately never fully explores the questions of humanity, conscience, what it means to live. The most poignant moment in the movie was perhaps when wife Clara Murphy asks: "You said you could save him, but what kind of life will he have?" 

As the movie reaches its climax, the audience was bombarded by intense and dramatic action sequences one after another, some too dark, some too hectic, but had a strong visual style and contemporary aesthetic, albeit somewhat too 'video-gamey', leading to a predictable ending and open enough for a sequel if it fares well commercially.

Joel Kinnaman- Alex Murphy/Robocop
Gary Oldman- Dr Dennett Norton
Michael Keaton- Raymond Sellars
Abbie Cornish- Clara Murphy
Samuel L Jackson- Pat Novak

Also stars Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle and Jackie Earle Haley.

Rising star Joel Kinnaman takes the lead role and manages to be convincing both as a robotic and emotionless droid as well as a hurting husband and father. Supported by veterans Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton and Samuel L Jackson, the cast is congruent and effective.

Rebooted from the 1987 original, Robocop is a formulaic and safe popcorn blockbuster with sweeping action sequences, modern visuals and a videogame aesthetic that gives the audience a temporary adrenaline rush. Though it attempts to inject themes of humanity and conscience, it ultimately fails to leave a mark and feels lacking in depth and meaning. Nonetheless, it has a strong cast and is an enjoyable movie to kill two hours. 

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