The mere mention of Robocop can prompt an awkward shuffle. The long drawn out sighs before some cries “why are they remaking it? Why?!” This was my reaction too, until a recent realisation: we are making reboots harder for ourselves to watch. The industry is going to keep making them anyway, so why not embrace it and see what this new take has to offer. I found the best way to do this is to go in without the mindset of comparing it to the original. Like countless others I hold Robocop close to my heart. It’s a film I saw as a child and loved. He was a badass version of Inspector Gadget.
Set in a near future Detroit, the new adaptation takes on the topical idea of robots and drones being used more in conflicts. OmniCorp are pushing for more robots to be used in law enforcement because it expands their profit margin. In an attempt to win the public’s vote, they introduce Alex Murphy, a cop injured in the line of duty to become the bridge between what it is to be human and mindless killing drone. The film sets up the opportunity to question the contrast between machine and man, corporation marketing and pushy biased media. While it touches on all of these ideas, it never really succeeds in doing so. Instead it struggles in creating any emotionally real characters, let alone Robocop himself. By trying to humanize a robot it ends up dehumanizing its other characters.
Transforming the entire plot into more of a simulation of a computer game, in what may be an attempt to appeal to its younger audience. Robocop now has become something of a generic action movie: it has gun fights, high speed chases and a shouty Samuel L. Jackson. The film really does fall flat.