My question, even before I saw this, is why? Why make a remake that is
so remarkably similar to the original? Says director Josť Padilha about
the 1987 movie, ďI think itís a brilliant film, an iconic classic.Ē
Maybe it is. If so, why remake it? Were he a painter would he want to
repaint the Mona Lisa or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel?
Casablanca fits his description of a ďbrilliant film, an inconic
classic,Ē certainly more than Robocop. Does he want to remake
that with, maybe, George Clooney (I shudder at the thought) as Rick? Of
course he might be able to replace Bogey (but not with Clooney), but
heís going to run into trouble when he tries to replicate Peter Lorre,
S.Z. Sakall, Claude Rains, and Sidney Greenstreet.
But back to Robocop; this is actually a pretty good movie with a
pretty good script (Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner who wrote the
original still get the basic credit with Joshua Zetumer also checking in
for tweeking their work) and a fine cast, headed by Gary Oldman, Michael
Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley, Samuel L. Jackson, and Joel
Kinnaman as Alex Murphy, the Detroit policeman whose body is destroyed
with only his head, heart, and lungs remaining, who is morphed into a
cyborg by Oldman. Kinnaman, a Swede, looks a lot like Peter Weller in
the original, but maybe thatís because Robocopís armored body is almost
an exact duplicate of the one quarter century ago.
The cast makes the remake worthwhile. Cornish is a terrific actress.
Anybody who hasnít seen Somersault has missed a good film with an
exceptionally brave performance by Cornish, given all the nudity. Keaton
is one of the more underappreciated, underused talents in Hollywood.
Iíve never seen him give a bad performance and heís just as good here as
he ever has been, although his real forte is comedy. However, in a twist
from the original, heís not nearly as outwardly evil as his character
was then. Oldman takes a role that could have been forgettable and makes
you look forward to his next appearance onscreen. Haley is a fine
sociopath and Jackson appears as a convincing TV polemic.
As an aside, when Jackson appeared as a remote guest on KTLA promoting
the movie, film reporter Sam Rubin mistook him for Laurence Fishburne
and asked him about his Super Bowl ad in a clip that has gone viral.
Jackson reacted brutally, playing the race card on poor Sam, who acted
admirably in the face of an inconsiderate, scathing attack by Jackson.
Rubin is one of the best, if not the best, interviewers among media
reporters, and I know a good interviewer when I see one since I wrote a
book on the subject. He didnít deserve the disrespect Jackson heaped on
This Robocop is the same story we saw in 1987 with a big
corporation as the bad guy. Whatís amazing is that the special effects
arenít really that much different than the special effects in the
original, more than a quarter century ago, despite the quantum leap in
While maybe they were making the point that love can transcend the
physical and can survive without it, keeping Alexís wife in the picture
until the end, something that the original did not do, was depressing.
Her constant reappearances kept reminding the audience that there was no
way they could ever get together for any kind of normal physical
relationship. In the original, when Alex asks about his wife and child,
his female partner simply says, ďShe thought you were dead and moved on
with her life.Ē
Since it is the same movie, it can stand on its own as a pretty good
entertainment. Now we have two Robocops that are basically carbon
copies of one another, although this one is a little less violent and
quite a bit blander. Take your pick.