If you have never watched Paul Verhoeven’s classic RoboCop (1987), then you might find this reboot to be entertaining fare. Nothing special but passable movie entertainment nonetheless. Whilst the original film came across as a visceral satire of the role that powerful corporations play in the USA and worldwide, Brazilian director Jose Padilha’s re-imagination renders any such social-political commentary inert and most of the time, his RoboCop comes across as safe, family-friendly entertainment.
This is most telling in the casting of the nondescript Joel Kinnaman as Peter Murphy/RoboCop. Compared to Peter Weller’s oddball intensity, Kinnaman brings nothing new to the character and in fact, most times, it is almost impossible to tell whether he is trying to be humanly emotional or robotic emotionless as he seems usually to be the latter! Perhaps this is the reason why Kinnaman is supported by top notch acting talent viz. Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Jackie Early Haley and of course, the ubiquitous Samuel L. Jackson. But even this stellar cast is unable to raise the movie about the mundane.
Sure, the movie takes advantage of all the technological advances since 1987 (and there are quite a few) that is to be expected, as a minimum. Padilha – best known for his award-winning Elite Squad – does well enough with the action sequences but is not equipped to tell a coherent story. Worse still, the ending of the movie is a total anti-climax that truly makes little sense. It’s all rather pedestrian in the final analysis. Stick to the original.