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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Movie Review - Robocop

Robocop (2014)
Starring Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle,  Jackie Earle Haley, Michael K. Williams, and Samuel L. Jackson 
Directed by José Padilha
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

I've never seen the original Robocop film (my 1980s popular movie oeuvre is decidedly thin), but I knew that the story consisted of a cyborg cop who hunts down bad guys.  Not much has changed in this 2014 remake which stars Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy, a cop in 2028 Detroit who is near fatally injured when he begins to uncover a large crime syndicate.  Desperate to save her husband's life, Clara Murphy (Abbie Cornish) agrees to allow billionaire Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) to permit his technicians to place pieces of Alex's body (brain, heart, lungs) into a cyborg that will not only allow him to "stay alive," but also allow Alex to become a high tech, state-of-the-art one-man police force.  Sellars has been working on this technology for years, but after a shaky issue in the Middle East in which some of his robots went a little haywire, the entrepreneur feels that this robot Alex will help advance his cause and show the US government that they need to pay for his expertise.

I must say that I was more impressed with Robocop than I expected to be.  Now, that doesn't necessarily mean I thought it was a masterpiece, but I like the fact that it takes its time to get its story going and that it doesn't rely on huge action set pieces in order to get its point across.  Granted (and this may seem like an oxymoron considering what I just wrote), there's a part of me that missed a grand showdown at the film's conclusion, but I appreciate that director José Padilha digs a little deeper into the social, political, and business aspects of the tale rather than just focus on a robot seeking justice.

Admittedly, Joel Kinnaman isn't given much to do especially considering the fact that during the film's last ninety minutes all we see of him is his face sitting atop the body of a metal robot.  Still, in everything that I've seen from Kinnaman (including the tv show The Killing), he's not exactly an actor that emotes all that much and while I get that he's playing a bit of a robot here, I wanted a little more passion from the actor.  Gary Oldman is quite good as Dr. Dennett Norton, adding a bit more heart and substance to what could've easily been an underwritten throwaway role.  Michael Keaton also carries a bit of impact here as I appreciate that he walks the line of genuine compassion and strong-willed, shrewd businessman without ever being too over-the-top maniacal -- which is where he absolutely could've taken his role as the billionaire Sellars.  Although his motives may be solely financially based, Keaton never allows the character to stoop to a stereotype which helps Robocop immensely, in turn making it a better film.

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

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