Perhaps the most noticeable thing missing in the RoboCop 2014 remake, directed by José Padilha (Elite Squad, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within) are the quirky commercials, “I’d buy that for a dollar,” and the sunscreen that gives the user skin cancer are just a few of the adverts that made the first 1987 version, the Peter Weller starring Paul Verhoeven directed tongue in cheek thriller so beloved by its fans, that little bit special.
RoboCop the remake had a good amount of big names attached to it. Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, who would go on to give a brilliant performance in the oscar winning film Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) in the same year. The original did not rely so much on names to sell the film and Weller was shot to prominence as a result of his portrayal of Alex P. Murphy.
In RoboCop, Keaton plays the Ronnie Cox character and Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman is the Peter Weller in this updating of the cult classic film. In this telling of the man/robot crime fighter the female partner, played by Nancy Allen in the original, has been replaced by Michael Kenneth Williams and Murphy’s wife and child play a huge part in the film, too much so.
Added to the mix are Patrick Garrow as Kurtwood Smith’s replacement, and what a shallow replacement he turned out to be, and Jackie Earle Haley as a new, and totally arsehole-ish character not in the 1987 film. While the film entertains, it lack the humor and the pathos of the first one. Murphy feels different and does not have the same impact that Weller’s RoboCop had.
Having said that, the film is good. One still feels sorry for Kinnaman’s Murphy but from the very beginning when he wakes up as the “tin-man” this Alex is much more aware. In the first film, Murphy is in shock for a long time and it is only his former partner’s persistence that enables him to regain his humanity.
I personally missed the over-the-top villainy of Kurtwood Smith’s character. Clarence J. Boddicker is an icon as perhaps the most despicable bad guy in cinema history. Smith, who later went on to become the beloved Red in That ’70s Show, would most assuredly been a hard act to follow so it makes a certain amount of sense that the filmmakers did not even bother to try.
Gone too is the outright hostility and mistrust by the other Detroit police officers. Still, despite the differences, I enjoyed the film and found Samuel L. Jackson’s Pat Novak amusing. The overall storyline was satisfying enough and the only real complaint, apart from the missing “I’d buy that for a dollar,” was the arcade feel to the shoot outs.
RoboCop 2014 is available on US Netflix right now and definitely worth a look. 3.5 out of 5 stars. Points lost for lack of quirky humor and no Nancy Allen or Peter Weller cameos…