I can see it now. Detective Alex Murphy swaps the streets of Detroit for the streets of Derry and the PSNI all go on holiday.
Sadly, Detective Alex Murphy a.k.a. RoboCop is fictitious and even if he were real, there’s more chance of Derry City winning the Champions League than there is of the ironclad law enforcer leaving the Motor City for the Maiden City.
‘RoboCop’ first arrived on the big screen back in 1987 courtesy of Dutch director, Paul Verhoeven.
Verhoeven’s film, which was made for a modest $13m became an instant success and is widely regarded as one of the most intelligent and entertaining science fiction films of the 1980s.
It’s now 2014 and ‘RoboCop’ has a new master. Picking up from where Verhoeven left off is Brazilian director José Padilha.
‘RoboCop’ is Padilha’s first commercial blockbuster but his 2007 film, ‘Elite Squad’ is a superb film and definitely worth a watch.
Padilha had a much bigger budget than his predecessor; $130 million to be exact.
With greater financial fluidity and a dependency on special effects it’s remarkable that not once does it feel like Padilha has sacrificed substance for style.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. So much work and effort went into creating an authentic plot that the film sometimes felt like it lacked the right measure of action and violence.
Be that as it may, everything that made Verhoeven’s film a success is present and correct in Padalha’s version.
RoboCop was always going to be a dark film. A man is left hanging on to life and the only way he can survive is if scientists put what’s left of him into a machine. What’s not dark about this?
I was apprehensive when I read Padalha’s film was to be given a 12A certificate because what made Verhoeven’s film so palatable was its 18 rating.
Padilha doesn’t drop the ball and it’ll be no surprise at all if both he and RoboCop were to have a second outing together in the next few years.
Peter Weller’s iconic portrayal of Detective Alex Murphy/RoboCop over 25 years ago was always going to be a tough act to follow. Taking up the mantle is Swedish born actor Joel Kinnaman (‘The Killing’ - American re-make version).
Kinnaman does exactly what is required of him and whilst he’s not quite as memorable as Weller he does command empathy and compassion.
The scene where Detective Murphy discovers what has become of him after the car bomb attack will divide audiences.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to hearing a few sniggers in the cinema but I thought it worked brilliantly.
When RoboCop seeks out revenge on those who left him the way he is it feels a little unsatisfactory and Michael Keaton’s transition from cash hungry head of OmniCorp to murderous villain is awfully rushed.
Gary Oldman stars as Dr. Dennett Norton. Norton is the brains behind RoboCop but he’s also the only man who can protect and help him.
Oldman, as you’d expect, is great and if there is a sequel I would love to see him back again too.
‘RoboCop’ is currently showing at the Brunswick Moviebowl. For full cinema listings visit www.brunswickmoviebowl.com
VERDICT: 3/5 - Does it surpass Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 classic? Not at all. But does it entertain and offer something a little different? Yes.
José Padilha’s first box office film is a decent offering and Joel Kinnaman is an impressive successor to Peter Weller’s ironclad law enforcer.
It’s certainly not perfect. Whilst it’s clear a lot of time and effort went into the story it has come at the expense of a satisfactory amount of action. A sequel should follow.