Running Time: 1 hour 48 minutes
Omnicorp president Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) is desperate to get his law enforcement robots to work in American cities, but negative public opinion polls and staunch opposition in the Senate stand in his way. He approaches his lead scientist Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) with a radical idea: put a man inside the machine. They believe they have found the ideal candidate when Detroit Police detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is horribly injured in an explosion. After months of surgeries, testing and training, Det. Murphy is put back on the streets as RoboCop: the ideal combination of human judgement and technological superiority. From the outsetRoboCop is a rousing success, drastically lowering crime rates as well as whetting the public’s appetite for more law enforcement machines. When Det. Murphy’s humanity starts overriding his programming, Omnicorp must either contain or eliminate him before he can spoil their plans.
I was not a big fan of the original RoboCop, so I didn’t bring any sentimental baggage with me into the theatre. Standing on it’s own merits, RoboCop is a decent movie with some impressive visual effects and surprising emotional depth. Joel Kinnaman is asked to convey a lot of emotion with just his face and I was impressed by the range he manages under difficult circumstances. His scenes with his wife, played by Abbie Cornish, are tender and sweet and in order to get us to invest fully in Alex Murphy they should have mined that relationship further. Samuel L. Jackson also steals a handful of scenes as a pro-Robotics political pundit. This iteration of the RoboCopstory benefits greatly from the advancements in special effects technology and some of the things the movie shows you are very inventive, which is an absolute necessity.
The story could have used some of that same inventiveness because much of the plot is a paint-by-numbers amalgam of dirty cops and corporate greed with some story points being as subtle as a pie in the face. They could have also struck a better balance between how long it takes for Murphy to become RoboCop and how long he IS RoboCop. The action is just getting started when you realize that the movie is at its climax and it is hard not to feel like you didn’t get enough. But I suppose it is good that I left the theatre wanting more. B-