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English film review
Fantastically orchestrated Actioner!
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Jackie Earle Haley, Jay Baruchel, Abbie Cornish
Director: José Padilha
Rating: * * *
It’s an origin story , a reboot or remake of Paul Verhoeven’s Man and machine unite in RoboCop, a reimagining of the 1980s cult classic, directed by José Padilha. , which is still brutally relevant 27 years on.
In the current "RoboCop," the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is trying different ways to sneak in robots. Into the Police force, given that they have already obtained winning PR for their stint in Tehran. That is exactly where this reboot begins. A live feed from Tehran covered by a reporter more awed by the spectacle than interested in telling it as it is, goes awry when suicide bombers attack the robots policing the streets. It’s a shocking sight that swings public opinion in the US in favor of keeping Robots off the police force. The obnoxious right-wing TV host here — Pat Novak, played by a mostly wasted Samuel L. Jackson, tries hard to swing things back. But up until Detroit’s finest, Alex Murphy( Joel Kinnaman) gets injured in a bombing, it was all no-go.
Omnicorp comes to the rescue of the barely surviving injured cop and kits him out with a new body attached to the surviving bits and pieces of his old self. It’s a preprogrammed metal suit with AI which allows him to use his emotions and intellect to suit the cause. Alex returns to the streets of his beloved city with amazing new abilities, but with issues a regular man has never had to face before. The conflicts are clearly defined. Vengeance is the need of the hour and the action is remarkably enticing.
The re-structuring of the original plot, allows for a far more intricate web of possibilities. By not simply forcing Murphy’s family out of the picture, 2014 allows for a reunion that drives home the strangeness of the possibility of their ever getting back together. And we feel the pain too. Abbie Cornish as the wife gives a superbly etched emotion riffen performance-just what the director ordered. The overpowering disconnection presented by Alex Murphy’s inhuman body shoves a wedge into his close relationship with his loved ones. He is still himself, in voice & behaviour, & yet the machine presents a distance. The question that begs an answer is –Was he transformed for the greater benefit of society or to allow him to go back to the normal family existence he loved? The answer of course is quite clear. Though his wife fought to keep him alive, the irony is that his new life has little or no room for her and their son.
For OmniCorp, Murphy represents a tremendous opportunity. “He’s a product they want to sell,” Padilha explains. “He’s a prototype. He’s been developed, just like a soda company might develop a new bottle: they’re trying to find the ideal design for a robot to sell to police departments. It’s potentially billions of dollars for the company, so they’re willing to cut a few ethical corners to get there. But they forgot something – inside the product, there is a man; it’s not just a suit, it’s a human being.
The film's origins come from superhero comics, its elements easily interhangeable and its general make-up not too distant from Iron Man. Of course, the mechanics of that is different. The parts are movable and is fed with a combination of hormone juices. For a remake of an infamously blood drenched work of ultra-violence, this is surprisingly verbose. It’s also contemporary and thematically relevant to today’s scenario. The original used TV recreations to demonstrate a media turned blithely oblivious to nightmare & degradation, and here, the media is updated to be actively antagonistic & destructive. Unfortunately it’s not humorous or satirical. The final act is neatly done- the scenes that come before it have that action packed wow factor. What was once derided as ridiculous and toonish has now transformed into a spectacle , both insightful and intelligent in it’s brilliance. Robocop 2014 manages to live up to those expectations!