I always say I’ve never seen the original Robocop movie, but that’s not entirely true. I’ve seen it in passing about fifteen times, and never once has it clicked to the point where I felt compelled to sit down and watch it. It’s weird. It’s wrong. As someone who loves 80s action movies, it makes me a little uncomfortable. And so I vowed to do better with the newly revamped Robocop of 2014…with about as much success.
Set in 2028, Robocop takes place in a world beset with war and crime. OmniCorp has developed a robot soldier that could conceivably replace our military and prevent the loss of human life. We see the robots smashing around in foreign countries, laying down the law, surveying the activities of the citizens, and stopping bad guys in their tracks. Could this work in the U.S.? Could we replace our police force with robots? And can we trust an entity devoid of compassion to enforce our laws justly? Surely there are plenty of grey areas that are going to be lost on a machine.
It seems highly unlikely that a robot could compare to a stellar cop like Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), a hard-working family man who gives his very best on the job. But what if OmniCorp could have the best of both worlds? When Alex is severely injured in the line of duty, the company seizes the opportunity to build his working parts into a robot – a part human, part machine Robocop. Though they have saved his life, nothing is the same. How do you reach out to your wife or child when you’re nothing more than a head in a mechanical suit? Oh, he makes a kickass, indestructible cop, but what about his life?
The plot thickens when Alex realizes that OmniCorp didn’t come to his rescue after all: they blatantly set him up. And so begins Alex’s journey toward justice and badassery. We feel for him, in theory, because he’s a sympathetic character: a real, relatable person knocked down by the system, but it’s all very straight-faced and ordinary. There is no acknowledgement of the absurdity of the plot, no over-the-top action movie fun, and frankly, Alex doesn’t seem THAT upset about what happened to him. He’s simply going to get those bastards, if he can even call them that in a PG-13 movie. Though Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton invoke their best evil hand-wringing, the movie remains unmoving. The action unfolds on cue, with the perfect calculation of, wait for it, a robot
Special features on the Blu-ray edition include deleted scenes, an OmniCorp Product Announcement, and the featurette “Robocop: Engineered for the 21st Century” which includes segments on the illusion of free will, Robocop’s weapons, and the Robocop suit.