Entertainment News

  • 7 February 2014, 10:56

RoboCop Review: Reboot Is 'Anti-Superhero Film'

Another week. Another reboot. The sceptical among you might doubt there are any original ideas left in Hollywood, but Jose Padilha's remake of RoboCop benefits from the 1987 version evolving from science fiction to science fact.

The 2014 incarnation simply holds a mirror up to the political present, engaging with the very current debates on drone warfare and the possibility of robot soldiers fighting our battles in the near future.

Peter Weller's RoboCop was very much a film of its time - ultra violent and set in a futuristic arcade game inspired world. The reboot shares only the name and the suit.

This is brave and ambitious film-making from the Brazilian Padilha, who cut his teeth on documentary films such as Bus 174 and Elite Squad.

The director admits he had to "smuggle" the philosophical debates past the money men signing off on the film's $120m budget.

We join a world where the US is 'robo-phobic' - unwilling to accept a police force made up of machines without a conscience  - and the solution is fusing a real cop with a robot body.

Step forward Alex Murphy, played by relative unknown Joel Kinnaman, who is surgically implanted into the suit after being left mortally wounded.

'Omnicorp', headed up by a Bruce Wayne-esque Michael Keaton, believes Murphy is the prime candidate to swing public opinion - a family man with a commitment to justice.

The struggle between man and machine - consciousness and duty - forms the backbone of this intelligent action thriller, buoyed by the casting of Gary Oldman as the ethically compromised Dr Norton. Has he created Frankenstein's monster?

Abbie Cornish's Clara forms the emotional heartbeat of the movie as she fights for her husband's soul.

In an era of big-screen superheroes - despite the suit and the powers - this is an anti-superhero film. It is a Greek tragedy wrapped up in a tin suit: no one wakes up and wants to be RoboCop.

The second half of the movie does veer more into action movie territory, leaving the money men with an interesting dilemma for the inevitable sequel.

Do they put their trust in director and cast to once again deliver a philosophical action tragedy? Or do they sell their soul to the fictional Omnicorp to cash in on merchandising opportunity?

Rating: ***

RoboCop is in cinemas from February 7.

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