RoboCop 2014 Review

Robocop Trailer via Youtube

Why is America so Robophobic?

In some ways this is the central question of the 2014 remake of Robocop, but the meaning of the film goes much deeper. In keeping with the 1987 classic directed by Paul Verhoeven, Robocop is about a cop placed inside the body of a robot to become a cybernetic crime-fighting organism, but it's also about a vision of a society so dominated by corporations that it allows ownership of its citizens as embodied in the person of RoboCop himself.

The 1987 film illustrated this theme by showing both the corporate attitude towards Detective Alex Murphy (RoboCop), as well as interspersing cheesy commercials throughout the film for ridiculous products ("I'd buy that for a dollar!"). This 2014 remake handles the illustration a bit differently, and much more poignantly. We are shown the effects of hyper-consumerism and corporate imperialism through scenes of drones filling the streets of the middle east and killing people, and through the personal story of Alex Murphy himself. Whereas the 1987 film focused on the action and often cheesy humor, this one focuses on his personal story and the impact that Omnicorp, the company that made RoboCop (OCP in the original which is the parent company in this one), has on his family and friends.

As much as this movie remains an action film (there's plenty of action for the shoot'em up crowd), I found myself getting choked up several times (my wife said she could hear me snuffling). Gary Oldman gives an amazing performance with great emotional nuance, and speaking of nuances, there are several subtle clues about how things are happening throughout the film that you might miss if you don't pay attention. They give the film a nice touch, little flavors here and there that make the whole an even bigger joy to watch. Although the movie plays homage to the original, this is a different story with some substantive changes (e.g. Lewis is now a man played by Michael K Williams of Boardwalk Empire fame), so don't expect a carbon copy. The end was a little weak for me, but overall the movie was fantastic and I'm definitely going to be adding it to my budding Blue-Ray collection when it comes out.


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