It was ‘80s remake weekend at the movie theater this past week, with Hollywood recycling a mediocre romantic comedy (“About Last Night”), a terrible romance (“Endless Love”) and a sci-fi classic (“RoboCop”).
“RoboCop” had the most to lose and the least to gain, but the kinder and gentler 2014 version is still reasonably satisfying, even if completely unnecessary.
Joel Kinnaman (TV’s “The Killing”) takes on the stoic title role, playing Alex Murphy, a scrupulous policeman untainted by the corrupt Detroit police department around him.
Things are awfully tough for a good cop in 2028, however, and when Murphy is left near death, he becomes a new kind of police officer.
Robot police are already patrolling streets across the world, but America refuses them, preferring officers who, theoretically, have a conscience.
Thanks to the scientific genius of Gary Oldman’s Dennett Norton, however, the U.S. can have the best of both worlds — a human/robot hybrid — and Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), evil CEO of OmniCorp, can get a lucrative share of the U.S. market.
Unlike the original movie, Murphy’s wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) knows — even approves — that her husband is being turned into a literal crime-fighting machine. She doesn’t know, though, that the corporation can control his emotions or even shut him down if he becomes inconvenient.
The cast also includes Jackie Earle Haley as a corporate robo-wrangler and Samuel L. Jackson as a bombastic, ultra-conservative “news” host who pushes for robot domination of the streets.
Kinnaman wears the metal suit well, and the new version of “RoboCop” benefits from much better special effects. It’s also considerably less violent than its predecessor, squeezing itself into a PG-13 package. The pace is slower and the story is more character based, though there’s still a reasonable amount of action.