I’ve never seen the 1987 original, but I’ve heard of Robocop. I knew he was a half-human, half-robot hero from Detroit with a deep voice and a wonky silver helmet. Nothing else really, which turned out to be boon in this case.
Snagging only a 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this year’s reboot of Robocop failed to impress a lot of fans, and after watching it myself, I can see why. While I don’t dislike the film, I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again. Besides, I only rented it from Redbox on a whim because, hello, Joel Kinnaman.
The 34-yr-old Swedish-American actor is famed for his part in Easy Money, but I first saw him in AMC’s The Killing (the fourth and final season of which is coming out all at once on Netflix, August 1–see the countdown box on our main page–Aaahhh!!!).
As Alex Murphy, Kinnaman delivered a solid enough performance. At first, I was completely thrown by his lack of facial hair, and the way he sauntered through the precinct gave me flashbacks to The Killing. (Because, c’mon, the way he flings snarky belligerence in the face of corrupt cops is all Stephen Holder.) However, as the first half moved on, I appreciated his tempered emotional byplay, specifically his devastated reaction to seeing what remained of his original body (hint: not much at all).
While the CGI during that scene and the rest of the movie were top-notch, the story itself unfolded predictably and without much pull to the viewer. And I did try to pay attention, truly. The actors kept distracting me –but in a good way!
Kinnaman’s acting did not shine alone. Gary Oldman portrayed the morally waffling Dr. Norton, creator of Robocop’s artificial appendages, and god can that man deliver his lines. Mmph. Opposite him, the avaricious cad Raymond Sellars is played by Michael Keaton, at whom I cannot stare without seeing his angular eyebrows. The scenes where the two clash just make me smile.
Oh, and guess what? Jay Baruchel stars as one of the bad guy’s minions, Tom Pope. Yea, every time Baruchel spoke without his bearded and hair-gelled visage actually on the screen, I was like, “Hiccup??” The thoughts were rather apropos since I had just written my review on How To Train Your Dragon 2. Pope’s lines swung Baruchel’s unique cadence just enough to tip it from Hiccup’s endearing sarcasm into the shameless plotting of a higher-tier marketing cockroach. So basically, if you want to hear how Hiccup would sound as a villain, watch this movie.
There were a couple of elegant contrasting imagery in Robocop, and I thank director Jose Padilha for providing them. Something about the latest bio-marvel lying inert in a watery rice field resonated just with me. Unfortunately, nothing else really stood out–at least, none that I can recall now, a week later.
ASV Scale of Villainy: B
With the way Robocop can track down criminals via extensive networking and then bring them down with enhanced, weaponized artificial limbs, you can be sure if his morals were reversed, the good guys would be in trouble (Especially when he has the capability of overriding chemical alterations Dr. Norton made to his brain). However, there is only one of him and he still needs to be hooked up to a large apparatus daily for robotic dialysis. That’s sorta a large weakness. We’d manage, methinks.