José Padilha's ROBOCOP
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
I’m not a big fan of Paul Verhoeven. I found his TOTAL RECALL and STARSHIP TROOPERS to be immensely entertaining but never really enjoyed his predilection for rubbing the audience’s face in cruelty and brutality. While his own ROBOCOP is viewed by some as a classic, its brutality overshadowed the high points of its cleverness and satire.
This new version, thankfully, is not quite so brutal and the plentiful action sequences don’t glory in gore and bloodsplatter the way, say, an EXPENDABLES film does.
That’s fine with me. There’s plenty to enjoy in this new ROBOCOP.
Effects, of course, are top notch; we expect that from well funded films. The cast is uniformly excellent. Editing and sound design are among the best I’ve seen this year. The storyline, while still loosely based on Verhoeven’s film, is interesting. And the political corporate satire are up to the minute.
This time around, though, we get to spend much more time inside the head and personality of Alex Murphy, the cop whose brain becomes the basis for the new Robocop man-machine amalgam. There is some serious introspection going on here. As a result we feel a lot closer to the guy in the suit.
Also clever is how the film displays Robocop’s ability to rapidly assimilate real-time and archival data to track criminals; it’s all very silly but is integrated rapidly and seamlessly with the ongoing action. Nice touch.
The movie does have some downsides. While the political angle is well illustrated the TV host portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson is too heavy-handed in telegraphing the politics of what Robocop’s corporate handlers are trying to accomplish. Besides, Jackson looks ridiculous in that wig.
Also, I never for one second thought I was really in Detroit. I have family from there and could never really get over that I was looking at locations in Vancouver or Toronto, not Detroit.
But overall I really did enjoy the film. Acting is great (e.g., Michael Keaton really shines) and the film looks terrific despite frequent night sequences. This is definitely a solid rental.
Review copyright © 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald