FROM THE UNNECESSARY REMAKES DEPARTMENT: someone got it in their heads that a remake of one of the cleverest, wickedest sci-fi action movies ever made—Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop—should be remade. This should surprise no one, because all good things must be reprocessed, much like discarded rooster wattles at a McDonald’s McNugget-packing plant.
Verhoeven’s original is a bit of a cult classic: in the not-so-distant future, Detroit is a crime-ridden hellhole, the police are run by a greedy corporation, and Frank Murphy (Peter Weller) is the Last Honest Cop. Unfortunately for him, he gets shot up by a bunch of bad guys, and what’s left of him is turned into the world’s first law enforcement cyborg. What follows is pure mayhem3shootings, stabbings, shootings, more shootings, an attempted rape, and oh, a guy that gets a bunch of toxic waste dumped on him and…well, words don’t do it justice:
Tasty! So no, not a kid’s movie, much to the dismay of my son, who assumed that any movie called Robocop would be OK for him to watch. When I heard that it was being remade, I figured that, Hollywood being Hollywood, they’d tone it down; R-rated sci-fi movies are a rare thing, because they tend to not make a lot of money, because the kids, they like robots and aliens and such. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the Robocop remake. In the spirit of the original, the producers and director are shooting for an R. And although I think remaking this movie is a terrible idea, I’m clinging to the hope that the movie itself might not suck.
For starters, director José Padhila knows his way around crazy-ass action movies. He directed a film called Elite Squad and its sequel, about a badass Latin American SWAT team, that became cult hits themselves. Like the original Robocop, it’s really violent and sometime brutally funny. And definitely not for kids. Then there’s the cast. Gary Oldman has signed on to play the scientist who creates Robocop; Samuel L. Jackson is playing a TV talk show host, originally a nerdy white guy whose catch phrase was (say it with me, Robocop Dorks) “I’d buy THAT for a dollar!” And Hugh Laurie, who almost lost his Awesomeness cred (one word: Blackadder) by playing House for two seasons longer than he should have, is in negotiations to play the evil CEO of Omnicorp, the company that runs Detroit’s police department and builds Robocop. So far, no complaints from me.
Who’s playing Robocop? Well…there’s the rub. Joel Kinnaman, who plays Holder on the excruciatingly bad The Killing, will be donning the (we assume) big metal robot suit.
Now, Kinnaman is one of the few things that’s good about The Killing; his performance as a recovering junkie cop who may or may not be what he seems (I only got through the first season, so don’t spoil anything, or do, because frankly I don’t care as the show is a meandering mess) was really good. Still, for fans of the original, it’s hard to picture anyone other than Peter Weller in the titular role – he was convincing as a tough human cop as well as a tough robocop. Kinnaman is equally convincing as a scrawny burnout who tends to slouch and mumble. But hey, a robot suit and electronic voicebox should take care of that!