Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
|Featuring:||Joel Kinnaman … Alex Murphy/RoboCop
Gary Oldman … Dr. Dennett Norton
Michael Keaton … Raymond Sellars
Abbie Cornish … Clara Murphy
Jackie Earle Haley … Mattox
Michael K. Williams … Officer Jack Lewis
Jennifer Ehle … Liz Kline
Jay Baruchel … Pope
Marianne Jean-Baptiste … Karen Dean
Samuel L. Jackson … Pat Novak
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|Distributor:||Columbia Pictures (Sony Pictures)|
“Crime has a new enemy.”
In the future, Omnicorp robots keep the peace throughout the world, except in America where it is illegal, but the company’s President, Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), aims to change that. With the help of science division’s Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman), they figure out a way to circumnavigate the law by putting a live police officer within robot mechanics, just as soon as they can find a viable candidate that is. Having a face, and more importantly a human mind behind the machinery, they hope to win over at first Detroit’s beleaguered citizens, and then the hearts and minds of all Americans.
Omnicorp gets their guinea pig when Officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is horribly and near fatally injured in a car bombing, and soon, with his wife’s permission, Robocop is born. More machine than man, Alex painfully tries to accept his new ‘life’ by becoming the solution to crime in Detroit. While his wife and son are unsettled by how much ‘machine’ is now a part of him, Omnicorp is increasingly concerned that there may be too much man in the machine.
A remake of a 1987 film, it shares many similarities in terms of the story, but interestingly differs in themes and messages, including some overtly political ones. Rated PG-13 for violence, language, brief sensuality and grisly imagery, even this version, compared to the heavy “R” content of the original, bears warning and is by no means “family-friendly.”
Language. Moderate. “S***” was used 10-12x’s, “A**” and “A**h***” combined for 4x’s, and both “B***” and the “F” word found it’s way once each, as well. “Hell” and “damn” were used sporadically, and the Lord’s name, either Jesus Christ or God, were taken in vain nine times by my count—three of those immediately after Alex discovers how little of him is actually left. Pat Novak lets out with two expletives, including “Mother***,” but since they were during a broadcast they are bleeped on-air, though their meanings are more or less clear. There is also talk about some of the criminals Robocop is targeting, which includes their offenses: rape, arson and murder.
Violence. Heavy. Mostly bloodless during battles, it avoids an “R” rating, but the violence is pervasive throughout. Beginning with the Islamist suicide bombers in the Middle East, at the start of the film, people are shot in the head and other body parts, killed by explosions, bullets and crushed.
Sex/Nudity. Moderate. There is only one scene of sensuality, and it is between Alex and his wife. What starts off as an amorous interlude with her disrobing down to her underwear, and Alex moving atop her, is interrupted by his car alarm which triggers the events ultimately leading to his death/rebirth.
A few words about the underlying and at times political messages of the film. The suicide bombers make it clear that they do not intend to kill anyone, contrary to the history of this heinous tactic of terrorism. The Senator against robots, and therefore “progress,” wears a bow tie and evokes the stereotypical image of an old school conservative.
Some of the very disturbing images shown deserve mentioning. During the “Robocop” selection process, various officers, injured in the line of fire, are shown with missing limbs, suffering widespread burns or exhibiting severe head trauma/brain damage. The post-explosion pictures of Alex are grim, but nothing compared to the horror of witnessing that all that is left of him are a few organs, most prominently his lungs, trachea, hand and brain. Teenagers and adults alike should find this gut-wrenching, as it was intended, but children will be most affected by this imagery, and I urge parents not to even consider exposing their eyes to this, let alone some of the other content cited already.
A few lessons come to mind. Omnicorp’s Raymond Sellars is probably one of the richest men alive, yet he feels it’s not enough. The Word of God warns us that greed carries an eternal price.
Pat Novak plays a TV host who functions more like a narrator, while giving his on-air audience a very opinionated “first hand” look at the world “as he sees it.” Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal of this huckster is as flamboyant as he is detestable. Though it is never explained, one gets the feeling that his partiality towards Omnicorp and against the Senator who led the American ban on robots may be the result of a some “back room” deal. A propagandist to the bitter end, he stirs up the debate and becomes a central figure in swaying the nation’s consciousness for good or ill. Such men in real life should be warned that these traits are clearly on God’s bad list:
“There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” —Proverbs 6:6-19
Robocop’s most humanizing aspect remains the great love Alex has for his wife and son. Her love compelled her to try and save him by any means possible, and his prevented him from ending this new existence simply to avoid causing her any more pain. As Paul’s letter to the Ephesians says, “He who loves his wife, loves himself” (Eph 5:29).
I wish I could expound on Alex’s inherent desire for justice or the motivations behind Dr. Norton’s on again/off again support of his creation, but characterization, unfortunately, took a back seat to action. The movie earns top marks for special effects, but the film’s pacing at times lagged and then accelerated as if to play catch up. Scenes sometimes appeared almost thrown in for effect, creating more of a comic book feel than that of a science-fiction/action movie. While it had it’s moments, “Robocop” will appeal mostly to teens and pre-teens, which ironically is exactly the audience that should avoid it the most.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.