Robocop (2014)


  • Though not a complete failure, this Robocop remake is not good.
  • Largely because it does not develop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) or his relationships deeply enough to make us care about the man. Because of that failure, when Murphy loses consciousness, disappoints his son, or ignores his wife, we feel zero emotion.
  • We are just as emotionless when Murphy begins unraveling the conspiracy against him, or when he achieves redemption.
  • As Robocop is an action adventure, a disguised superhero film, it might appear the lack of emotion ought be recoverable. Here it is not, however, because director Jose Padilha and the film’s three credited writers aim for a message movie about humanity and morality. Because they want to make us care about individuals’ civil rights, it is paramount that they make us care about the individuals in their movie.
  • And they don’t.
  • Robocop is not all bad, however. Much of the action is exhilarating. Special mention for fights between Murphy and Omnicorp drones.
  • There are bouts of humor, often at the hands of Samuel L. Jackson (Pat Novak) or Jackie Earle Haley (Rick Mattox).
  • The audio, both the sound design and the score, effectively creates mood and tone.
  • Abbie Cornish (Clara Murphy) does tremendous work, all the more so because her character is undeveloped and she’s given limited screen time. Michael Keaton (Raymond Sellers) is excellent, as well.
  • In fact, all of the actors, including Kinnaman, are effective.
  • Too bad the screenplay betrays them. In addition to poorly developed characters and under-channeled emotion, the filmmakers’ satire is overstated and repetitive. Consider Novak’s closing monologue or Sellers’ vile (character-breaking) actions at the end of the film. Padilha and his writers repeatedly opt for obviousness over subtlety, for telling us what to think.
  • Which is their greatest mistake. It makes their political message less powerful, less resonant.
  • And their film forgettable.
  • Final Grade: D-

18 thoughts on “Robocop (2014)

  1. I enjoyed this a bit more, but it was ultimately unneeded. And if it was needed, the studio should have let Padilha have his R rating like he wanted. Though some of the action is cool and filmed superbly, many scenes appear to suffer in what they can show. Budget concerns I’ve heard.

    And I actually found Kinnaman to be a negative in the title role. Just my opinion. Great review as always James.

    • I didn’t like Kinnamen nearly as much as the rest of the cast, either, actually. But the film doesn’t ask him to do much, really. And I thought him effective at the little with which he was tasked.

      I didn’t realize the director was forbidden from getting an R rating. Interesting.

  2. Totally agree. I quite liked the political message, but when the rest of the film fell flat, it is hard to care too much. Kinnaman’s portrayal was pretty useless, although I guess the writers could be the ones to blame.

    • Yeah. I don’t think Kinnamen great by any means, but I also think he was asked to do precious little. He was effective enough at showing what they asked him to show, I think.

      And I like the political message, too, on principle. It’s one with which I am predisposed to agree, but if a flick bashes it over my head the way Robocop does, I just start getting annoyed, no matter my own feelings on the topic.

  3. I am another guy who must mention my distaste for Kinnamen. He bored the living hell out of me. I cannot even look at his face with getting bored anymore. The movie itself had a few moments or two of fun but it is entirely disposable. Nothing like the original and tarnishes the name somewhat. I do think that they tried though so I’ll respect the hard work.

    • They definitely tried, but I quite agree there’s a great deal to dislike about this film.

      Though Kinnamen didn’t bother me – I don’t think he’s asked to do much, and so I also don’t think he really screws up anything.

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