My 2014 Movies: Robocop (#17)

I have never seen a Robocop film before. My extent of knowledge of the franchise borders between the realms of seldom and none. That is until I saw its recent remake with a couple of friends in February. Now I can at least tell you who Robocop is and how he came to be. More importantly I am interested enough to know more. I can’t say if the film was a worthy remake of the original film, but it was worthy enough to turn a newcomer to the series. In my book, that’s a remarkable thing!

The film takes place in the year 2028, where military force has since been assisted by mechanized soldiers. These military robots are produced by a company named OmniCorp, who wishes to sell his technology for use in US law enforcement. Such a concept has been considered unconstitutional and unlawful. Still, it remains a topic of debate in the States.

Alex Murphy is a police officer of the time. He lives a normal, happy life with his wife and son. One night, a bomb was set in Alex’s car which detonated leaving him mortally injured and on life support. The only chance he has involves an experiment OmniCorp is conducting in order to combine the robotic technology with an everyday policeman. This in theory would convince the public to accept robotic law enforcement as lawful. His wife agrees and the experiment is successful.

Murphy returns to his life and job while being overseen by the research team and OmniCorp. Along the way alterations begin to take place which may compromise Alex’s humanity. The ethical question arises about how much of him is man and how much is machine. And how far will OmniCorp go to turn Murphy into a means to a financial end.

As I previously said, I have never seen the original 1980s films. So I won’t be able to tell you how much of the source material translated faithfully from those movies. All I can properly comment on is this movie as an independent piece. With that said, this movie is very good.

I’ll tackle the story first which I found surprisingly in-depth. I wasn’t expecting a movie called “Robocop” to make me think. However, it’s a topic worth discussing as this concept of android technology isn’t too far into the future. Once the technology is within our means, how far can we go? Is it morally sound? How robotic can someone be until they’re no longer human? Do androids have human rights or not? Would robotic law enforcement be constitutional?

These are all issues that are discussed throughout the narrative. The film’s overriding theme is human vs. machine. It’s a constant struggle that this poor man is caught in the middle of. It’s a struggle that has many factors to consider, from his family to the greater good. You can really get invested in a concept that truly is just one technological advancement away from being reality.

The bottom line is this isn’t just a mindless, senseless action movie. There is a genuinely good story here to go along with those great action scenes. I’m not trying to say it’s this super deep film, but it is at least thought-provoking. The writing of this movie deserves a lot of credit. It’s execution of this interesting plot hits just the right note to be both thought-provoking and fun at the same time.

Of course we do have to discuss the action scenes since that’s the reason most of us will see this movie. Thanks to stunning CG effects this movie packs a good amount of great action to satisfy the explosion-lust within us all. It isn’t until the second act that you’ll finally see Robocop taking out baddies with his high-tech gear and superhuman abilities. Even then, the film provides smaller sequences in the beginning to act as appetizers for what’s to come.

Then there’s the acting which is incredibly well-done. You have Joel Kinnaman as the main star, who personifies the struggle and tragedy of Robocop. His performance give genuinity to the character, which makes it heartbreaking to see him go through this internal and external struggle as he lives life as something completely else.

Gary Oldman plays a scientist who represents the ethical side of the argument and is immediately effective at portraying the good guy. Michael Keaton is the head of OmniCorp who reciprocates Oldman’s character. I’m glad to see Keaton make a little comeback this year with this and Birdman (which I didn’t see). I never knew he was so good at being despicable and diabolical. Performances by the Murphey family, the fellow scientists, and Samuel L. Jackson as a TV show host are excellently portrayed.

All that remains are the production values such as camerawork and cinematography which are stunning as expected. The POV shots of Robocop are definitely worth noting. The slightly futuristic Detroit sets make for some great metropolitan scenery. And the music is also as epic and thrilling as needed for an action film.

This film will be an excellent choice for any action movie fans young and old, casual or hardcore. I believe this film went beneath many people’s radar, but rest assured it’s a good flick. The only people who may have any issue with the movie would be fans of the original films. Even then, you’d be a fool not to at least give the film a fair shot. It may not be as witty or satirical, but you may be surprised with the alternative.

View #16 here!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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