Words by Duncan Caillard
After Detroit beat cop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is fatally wounded by a car bomb, he is resurrected by the hyper-evil robot mega-corporation Omnicorp as a marketing ploy to sell death droids to the US government. What follows is a generic two hours of depthless nonsense that feels as if it was assembled from a flat-packed package from IKEA by a team of people who couldn’t read the instructions.
For its entire duration, Robocop wanders on aimlessly, bouncing from hollow fight scene to hollow fight scene, unsure of what exactly it wants to say or how it wants to say it. Ultimately it resorts to shoring up its ruins with cheap genre tropes of black buddy cops, corrupt CEOs and gorgeous Arian families in the suburbs. The film can’t decide whether it wants to discuss free will, US military engagements in the Middle East, privacy in the modern world or whistleblowers. In the end it leaves nothing explored and very little said.
The acting is almost universally flaccid. The Robocop himself would have been played with more vibrancy and excitement by a halved orange left out in the sun for too long. The film exchanges the original 1987 version’s hyper-violence and relentless satire for an M rating and an uninteresting cardboard love story between Murphy and his wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish).
Despite the fact that the majority of the film is utterly humourless, the scenes containing Samuel L Jackson’s Pat Novak are both genuinely funny and insightful. Parodying personality-driven Fox News shows, the few moments where he’s onscreen are a welcome escape from the bland uselessness of the rest of the film. On a certain level, it’s almost worth seeing the film just for those moments, but that level is very, very low.
Ultimately, RoboCop fails to justify its own existence and stumbles through a flavourless story populated by uninteresting characters. You won’t leave the theatre angry, just bored.