This version of ROBOCOP is a little more than an engaging sci-fi thriller and a regular tale with a wronged hero and a self-serving corporate giant, replete with standard razzmatazz associated with the genre. The inhumanly powerful Robocop, the film’s hero, is a victim of a callous and corrupt system and is quite humane, which wins him sympathy from the audience.
It’s a simple, almost linear, story without needless embellishments and complex screenplay artifices. The film is quite accessible to lay family audiences including kids since the depiction of violence in it is not graphic and gory. The dialogues can be clearly heard as actors enunciate their lines properly, sans heavily accented muttering and stuttering.
The film is set in future when Iran is under American occupation. Ha, ha, ha. It begins with what looks like a promotional video for Robot soldiers doing duty in the by-lanes of Tehran, fighting ill-equipped resistance fighters. These are developed by OmniCorp, a robot manufacturing corporate giant, headed by its CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton). We soon know that it’s actually a TV News show, anchored by Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson) who promotes and pitches as blatantly for the OmniCorp inventions as some of the News anchors in India pitch for the ruling establishment.
Now, these Robots may efficiently serve the American cause in Iran but cannot be used for policing work on the US soil because of a law that prohibits non-human policing by robots and drones since the lawmakers think that robots neither have conscience nor wisdom to discriminate between the good and bad. Sellars wants that law to be repealed to sell his robots freely in his own country. He embarks on a project to develop Robocops, a fusion of robotic technology with physically-disabled humans. He has a great scientist in Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) to do the job. The problem is Nortan’s conscience is still alive and gets kicking every now and then.
Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a good cop, a gentle giant, and a great family man. He is on to a syndicate of gunrunners who have been selling advanced weaponry stolen from the Police armory in connivance with some senior cops. The syndicate decides to eliminate him and booby-traps his car. The explosion nearly kills him.
Sellars and Nortan convince his wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) that his only chance of survival lies in joining the Robocop project. She says yes to the idea and thus is born our Robocop, who has the heart and mind of Murphy and a body of steel and wires!
He can still be remote-controlled and programmed by his handlers and manipulated like any other robot. Robocop becomes a hit with people for his clockwork efficiency and inherent knack to search, spot, and capture criminals. Clara is not happy with this. Murphy’s cut-and-dried cop act disturbs her.
Robocop is not her husband or her son’s father whom she had known. Somehow Murphy regains his lost memory and emotions, and becomes too hot for the OmniCorp boss. As the law that prohibited the use of robots for policing is repealed, Sellars decides to eliminate Murphy since he is not needed any more. Will Robocop survive the conspiracy?
The best thing about this film is that the technology and craftsmanship are subservient to the film’s story and are hardly noticeable. The helmer refrains from abusing CGI effects to overwhelm his audience. He maintains a fine balance between old-fashioned story telling and new-age computer wizardry, while staying true to genre norms.
His characterization and casting are right on dot. Joel Kinnaman is perfectly cast and so are others. Michael Keaton, as a devious, wily, suave, and gently persuasive villain, plays his role to perfection. Samuel L. Jackson as a loudmouth News TV anchor is hilarious and totally relatable even to us here in India and you will find the traces of our own News TV anchors in him.
ROBOCOP also delivers a political message, as subtly as possible, to the self-serving control freaks. This adds a dash of intellectual gravitas to an action thriller about a Robocop who has a body of steel and wires but deep inside the technological contraption beats an extra-large heart.
Rating : 2.5/5
ROBOCOP Movie Review by Rajesh Kumar Singh (the author) is Editorial Consultant for Festivals and Markets for BollywoodTrade.com. He is a filmmaker, critic and market analyst. The information and views set out in this movie review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the Publication/Organization. Neither the Publication/Organization nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.