Director: José Padiliha
Cast: Joel Kinnamon, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley and Samuel L. Jackson
Running Time: 117 minutes
Release Date: February 7th
Pour one on the curb for Rob Bottin. Well, he’s not dead—unless, if internet message forums are to be believed, you think selling real estate in California amounts to shuffling off this mortal coil. From the late 70s through to the 90s, he was one of the elite makeup and special effects experts, enjoying particularly fruitful relationships with John Carpenter, Paul Verhoeven and later, David Fincher. He was responsible for insane transformation scene in The Howling, chest dwelling resistance fighter Kuato in Total Recall and using more K-Y Jelly than the porn industry in The Thing. Those days are gone though cause, you know, CGI.
After his second collaboration with Verhoeven was reimagined as a lens flare-fest that’d make even J.J. Abrams blush, their first team-up, the wonderful 1987 Robocop, is next through the recycling plant. It’s 2028 and things are looking up in Detroit: crime is down, jobs are back and the streets have never looked cleaner—or more like Toronto. And all thanks to Omnicorp whose obelisk like headquarters acts as both a beacon of light and intrusive panopticon. Run by insidious CEO Raymond Sellars (a fun Michael Keaton), they’ve taken over the robot market, creating androids that have revolutionised military tech. Hopes of bringing the same technology back home have been scuppered by The Dreyfus Act, a law obstructing automaton enforcement, forcing Omnicorp to seek the next best thing; part-man, part-machine. Enter Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnamon), an honest cop in a city full of crooked ones who’s blown to smithereens by a car bomb. They can rebuild, they have the technology—they just need his wife (Abbie Cornish, face set to frown) to bawl over the waiver form for too long.
Verhoeven’s original was ripe with ridiculous satire that took pot-shots at right wing media, bleeding heart liberals, gentrification and capitalism. Everything was fair game. Director José Padiliha has similar intentions but completely misses the point, if anything creating the exact opposite. It’s only 14 years away but the people of Motor City will be happy to know that the panacea for the crumbling of the automotive industry and major crime is jobs in a weapons manufacturer that supports occupations in the Middle East—which despite all the world’s technological advancements in the world are still bringing knives to ED-209 fights.
As the future of the DPD, Kinnamon is as glum and grey as his TV day job. His Robocop has no interest in solving crime; mainly the one that has a fantastic actor like Michael K. Williams stuck with dialogue like, “Yeah, das ma boi!” It’s suit-on, now for vengeance. Where Peter Weller’s thin frame fit the metal suit first time out, it was his drawling monotone that was so perfect. With Kinnamon, everything about his performance, in and out of the suit, is factory made. Its veterans—Oldman, Keaton and Jackson—are all fine, but just that. Abbie Cornish can feel particularly hard done by with a character than no one really wants to know about. She’s a catalyst for questions about a robotic man dealing with family life. This is (supposed to be) an action movie, no one wants to see At Home With the Robocops.
Terrible acting; egregious plotlines; baffling musical cues (70s yodelling Dutch prog-rock, anyone?); regurgitated dialogue that just steps short of turning to the camera and blowing kisses. They’d all be forgivable if Robocop was in anyway fun. It’s a movie with snarling baddies and a guy covered in metal, it’s no place for considering the existence of the human soul. It’s supposed to be silly but it’s just plain dumb.