In 2028, multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Around the world, their drones have been used by the military for years - and it's meant billions for OmniCorp's bottom line. Now OmniCorp wants to bring their controversial technology to the US home front, and they see a golden opportunity to do it. When Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) - a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit - is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and even more billions for their shareholders, but they never counted on one thing: there is still a man inside the machine pursuing justice.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Aussie actress Abbie Cornish delivers the film's main payload of emotion and tenderness as Mrs RoboCop in a wonderfully heartfelt and authentic performance. It stands out even from the brilliant Gary Oldman as Dr Dennett Norton, the scientist at the technical heart of the OmniCorp empire run with heartless efficiency by Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton).
The film's genes come from superhero comics, its elements easily interhangeable and its general make-up not too distant from Iron Man. But with more moving parts - and similar to some of them - than a dozen Transformer movies, the film's point of difference is its use of ultra high-tech both as a tool for the actions and as a tool of cinema. (But then this is 2028, the age of evolved technology that never crashes or fails.) RoboCop's massive body suit, with its clunky footwear that makes our hero clump about far too much for mike liking, contrasts with stainless steel armature and smoothly sliding metal plates, and a full-head helmet that leaves exposed only the eyes, nose and mouth of our hero, Detective Alex Murphy.
The visualisation of all the computer screens that RoboCop can instantly access, nay, is force-fed, complemented with criminal records and instant assessments of danger status, is one of the film's biggest wow factors.
Keaton brings his screen-wise gravitas to the role with aplomb and character, while Jackie Earle Hayley is a standout as his feisty right hand killing macine.
The story is set in Detroit and there are parallels to Superman and Gotham City, even down to political corruption. There are also points scored against Big Technology and Big Media (predictably), the latter with a juicy performance from Samuel L. Jackson as Pat Novak, presenter (judge, jury, commentator, self-aggrendised media guru) on a cable news network.
It's a film meant for young and excitable audiences (who don't mind scrambled images), and I don't qualify. Still, there are ideas here that grapple (fairly simply) with serious themes, such as the crucial difference between a policeman and a policebot; what role does morality or conscience (in effect, humanity) play in police work that aims to make society secure?
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ROBOCOP (2014) (M)
CAST: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Abbie Cornish, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Jackie Earle Hayley, Michael K. Williams, Jennifer Ehle, Jay Baruchel, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Douglas Urbanski
PRODUCER: Marc Abraham, Brad Fischer, Eric Newman
DIRECTOR: José Padilha
SCRIPT: Joshua Zetumer, Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Lula Carvallho
EDITOR: Peter McNulty, Daniel Rezende
MUSIC: Pedro Bromfman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Martin Whist
RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 6, 2014