Oct 2, 2019
Here Is Your Review Of The ‘Robocop’ Reboot By Someone Who Never Saw The Original
Last night I saw the Robocop reboot. However, I never saw the original movie. Before everyone yells at me about how I could have missed such a classic American film: I was a freshman in college and had many other things to do that involved girls and drugs. Sorry not sorry. Before going, I asked a friend to describe the original. Her explanation: “I just remember that I thought there was something really atavistic and terrifying about the clompy robots, but then again I was 13.” NOT HELPFUL, FRIEND.
Anyway, Robocop. Robocop was not good. Robocop wasn’t bad, exactly, and you should definitely see it if you are the kind of person who sees every movie where shit blows up (waves hand) but it is not a film for the ages. Sadly, it could have been. The cast is actually much better than your standard action movie deserves. Joel Kinnaman, whom you may remember from “The Killing” as the mumbly laconic but still sexy Stephen Holder, stars, and Joel Kinnaman is a good actor! However, Joel Kinnaman is not a good actor to play Robocop here, a character that requires some tension between feeling human emotion and having that emotion suppressed by his evil creators, because Kinnaman plays his emotions in very small ways. He’s not a dramatic scene chewer, which is good, but it means you can’t really tell when he’s having human feels and when he is just all machine.
The supporting cast is also too people you like to see in movies. Sorta evil yet sorta conflicted doctor that makes Robocop what he is today? Gary Oldman! Completely evil bastard that runs ginormous company that just wants Robocop to serve as their entry into robotifying America? Michael Keaton! Keaton’s face has gotten weirdly tight at the eyes, but loose at the mouth, which gives him a permanent look of crumbling rage. However, every character in the movie is cursed with clunky dialogue of the “Let me tell you what I am thinking and now let me tell you what I am going to do” variety. Everyone reads those lines like they are in a high school play. Hell, Gary Oldman’s accent slips towards the end, and Gary Oldman’s accent never slips, people. Omar from “The Wire,” Michael K. Williams, shows up, and he’s relegated to the Robocop partner role and given absolutely nothing to work with. Shame on you, Robocop. The only person who can be excused for their acting in this film is Samuel L. Jackson, playing Pat Novak, host of “The Novak Report,” a jingoist little cross between the razzle dazzle of CNN’s set and the vitriol of Bill O’Reilly. Jackson ragesmirks his way through the whole thing, complete with some really lacquered hair and an omnipresent American flag.
Jackie Earle Haley is in there too, which means I spent much of Robocop thinking about The Bad News Bears instead.
Abbie Cornish plays Robocop’s wife. She cries a lot. A LOT.
Does the plot hew to the original? NO FUCKING IDEA! It’s 2028 and Keaton’s Omnicorp has deployed its big AT-AT style robots and its small old-school Cylon style robots all across the world, for peace and freedom! but mean old America won’t let him, because robots have no soul and will not feel sad when they kill children. So Evil Michael Keaton hits on the idea of a man-machine, because then they will have feels about when they kill children. Success! All he needs is a cop that has been blown to pieces. Enter Kinnaman’s Alex Murphy, who becomes a Robocop that still seems really clunky-looking which is maybe like the original, except I have no clue.
Then we have lots of things where Robocop rides a cool-ass motorcycle and kills robots that are actually robots, not man-machine robots, and many many things blow up.
This version of Robocop starts out thinking it is about the terrifying link between corporate greed and governmental overreach, but ends up being mostly about Robocop’s wife crying a lot and some CGI effects. I do not think that is what the original was about, probably because of the critical lack of good CGI circa 1987.
Should you see it? I have no idea whatsoever. If you don’t have any feels about the original and like blowy-uppy movies, sure, why not? Or you could just watch Terminator 2 again, because that will get you all your complicated man-machine feels and better acting. If you love the original with the fire of a thousand suns, you should probably go read reviews from one million nerds on the internet who will tell you if this is a loving tongue-bath for the original or murders the original in its bed. Either way, the motorcycle is pretty cool.