To not compare the original 1987 RoboCop to the Reboot, is a huge undertaking. Nothing like Robocop 87 has been made since. It was technologically advanced, incredibly raw, and profound. It was also excellently shot, with masterful pacing, and direction. Inside its adolescent, comic book story was a movie that was shockingly violent, unabashedly self-aware, and incredibly prophetic.
Then we have Robocop 2014. Set about only 14 years in our future it attempts to use controversy over US drone use overseas as the anchor-point to the story. This Robocop is Omnicorp’s (the robot company that makes all these drones) answer to having drones here on US soil. Which makes me question the demographic this movie aims for. Its PG-13 because it wants to attract a wider and younger audience right? I find it hard to think there are any kids out there who can peel their eyeballs away from their Iphones to care about drones invading our privacy and freedoms, unless its to look up and see if their Iphone 8 has been air-dropped by one of Amazon’s future delivery drones.
So to circumvent a ban on drones on US, OmniCorp (the movies robot making company) creates a cyborg cop . Luckily for them Detective Alex Murphy gets his ass blown to bits just in time to be considered for project. Also luckily for them Alex Murphy has the right psychological profile that would work for their robotic monstrosity/ public stunt. That is a hot headed detective asshole, who likes to ignore protocol , go into a situation guns blazing and gets horned up for his wife just hours after his partner was almost critically wounded….
So OCP Robot scientist Dr Norton (Gary Oldman) pretty much tells Clara, Murphys wife (Abby Corny or something)- she has a choice, sign over Murphy’s Gibs to them and allow them to make him into a Super Cop Robot or wiping drool and changing diapers for the rest of her life.
Super Cop it is.. 3 months later.. We have Robocop, or the terribly outdated name of “RC-2000”. Just to bring home he is NOT a robot to the public, they save his right hand. To show it is a MAN pulling the trigger. Which seems totally unnecessary since most of the time hes just going around tazing people anyway. Save for a few no name grunts, bullets hardly fly in this not-so-action-packed movie. Not that it had to be an action packed movie to be enjoyable, but it never delves into any of the philosophical complications of being a cyborg, or the implications of someone who is totally “jacked-in” to the net invading everyone else’s privacy. Aside from an interesting moment when Murphy is shown whats left of him, and when his son touches his robotic arm-only to hear the hollow sound of brushed aluminum, the movie shys away from going much deeper than that. It instead opts to push the whole, Drones on US soil agenda. Don’t make a shot game out of the word ‘Drone’ for Robocop2014, otherwise your friends would be in the emergency room for alcohol poisoning. Its all this movie could harp on. OCP heads, the uninteresting ‘Novak Element’ ( Fox news Bill Orielly Spoof, played by Sam Jackson), are fixated with getting drones on US soil. Which is what ultimately makes this movie dull. There are no ulterior motives. For anyone. Period. Seller’s (played by Keaton) goal is to circumvent the Drone ban by making a Cyborg Cop, then by ultimately changing public opinion on the ban in order to repeal it and get his drones in the States. Thats a lot of investment on a project just to sway public opinion don’t you think? (2.06 billion robobucks for the RC-2000). The plan was never to make more Robocops, and eventually they were going to put Murphy out of his misery when the ban was lifted. However, as Robocop solves his own murder, and begins to follow the chain of corruption up to his own chief, the higher ups at OCP decide its time to pull the plug on him sooner than later. Why? Its not really explained,the audience is left to assume the level of corruption will eventually lead to OCP heads, but how, that seems to be left on the cutting room floor.
The second half of the movie plays like a cliffnotes version of the original,minus any character development. Since the first half of the movie was focused on Murphy becoming Robocop (as opposed to the 5 minute-becoming-robocop-montage of the original), there just isn’t enough time in this 108 minute movie for characters to develop.Robo has to hurry up and get revenge before the credits roll. A lot of action elements were lifted from the first two original movies, but sadly they all feel uninspired at this point since Jon Favreau pretty much picked the meat off of those bones for his Ironman movies years ago
Robocop 2014 is definitely a product of the times. Just like the character its based on, Robocop 2014 had no other purpose than to become a consumable for todays market, create toys and merchandise. This is ultimately the goal of any movie or franchise, the difference is while other creatives in this field have found ways to work the Hollywood machine in their favor; creating evocative stories with memorable characters, you will find no such qualities in the new Robocop. It’s a paper thin story that stretches itself out by repeating itself ad nauseam. There is no layer of satire, or irony to be found in Robocop 2014, as it plays out painfully straight and by the numbers. In-fact if there is any layer of irony, its the fact that much like the film itself, the RC-2000 was created by Committee. From the generic design of the suit down to the painfully lackluster and botched Public event. The similarities between the creation of this movie and how the story plays out are endless. One can only assume Jose Padilla was projecting himself as Dr Norton, the hapless Robot scientist who was promised the world, but ultimately lost control of his own creation while getting steam blown up his ass.
I do hope it does we’ll enough for a sequel. Robocop could be a really fun property in the right hands, and hopefully if given the freedom , Jose Padilla could give us the Robocop he really wanted.