RoboCop  (2014)    70/100

Rating :   70/100                                                                     117 Min        12A

This is actually better than the 1987 original, although it is not without its problems, chief among them massive overuse of shaky cam in some of the action sequences. The story is similar but not identical – here America and her giant corporations seem to be steamrollering the whole world (or Iran at any rate) due in no small measure to their manufacture and deployment of robotic military equipment, but the home market has remained a no-go for the technology due to public concerns over its safety, much to the chagrin of Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), CEO of OmniCorp the cybernetics juggernaut responsible for the mass production of robots and the prompting of the moral homeland debate (this is set slightly in the future, in case that wasn’t obvious).

The logical solution to this pesky setback is to plonk a man inside a robot who has a moral conscience, only the same conscience is a little too slow at deciding when to pull the trigger and when not to, so a little amount of cerebral ‘tinkering’ goes on behind closed doors with their first unwitting participant in the scheme (he gets blown to bits by the bad guys, fortunately one of the intact bits is his head) Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman). This tinkering and the core concept itself forms the central discussion of the film, in between RoboCop annihilating the criminals in his home town of Detroit, and it’s handled at a reasonable pace with solid performances and slick special effects, and although there are a few problems with some of the action, and it’s not especially noteworthy, it does hold its own for the most part.

Support work from Gary Oldman as ‘tinkering’ scientist Dr Dennett Norton (inspired by Norton anti-virus?), Abbie Cornish as Mrs Murphy and Samuel L. Jackson is good, and the film successfully makes the OmniCorp board seem more like morally questionable people rather than the cardboard bad guys that so often frequented eighties action movies, RoboCop amongst them. In a scene where oodles of data and perp profiles are downloaded into Murphy’s noggin so he can immediately identify people wanted for arrest, I couldn’t help but think – don’t we already have the technology to do this? There are plenty of programmes that can identify faces, just pair it with a database and strap it to an officer’s squad car/ass kicking visor and bob’s your uncle, you could even apply it to a network of surveillance cameras and call it ‘The RoboCop Protocol’ …

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