Thursday, February 13, 2014

RoboCop Movie Review

Joel Kinnaman is RoboCop


Not even a great cameo by Sam Jackson can save José Padilha's RoboCop from utter failure (hence my grade) and its dubious distinction as 2014's worst movie (so far.) The 1987 original was campy & fun, and had the advantage of coming way before Iron Man. Padilha's reboot is painfully loud, uneven, uninspired and unwanted. My biggest regret? I left my DownBeats at home, and was forced to listen to each & every mind-numbing decibel.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: In RoboCop, the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Overseas, their drones have been used by the military for years - and it's meant billions for OmniCorp's bottom line. Now OmniCorp wants to bring their controversial technology to the home front, and they see a golden opportunity to do it. When Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) - a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit - is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp sees their chance to build a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and even more billions for their shareholders, but they never counted on one thing: there is still a man inside the machine pursuing justice.

What’s Best: RoboCop opens with promise, starting with Sam Jackson as a 2028 upgrade of Bill O'Reilly, and live coverage of an OmniCorp "crackdown" in Tehran, sarcastically described as 'an environment of safety and security.' For a minute there, I thought Padilha was on to something... before Joshua Zetumer's listless screenplay takes over, in addition to a senseless assault on the senses (so many bullets, so little blood, so much noise.) Even the soundtrack has 25 tracks. 25! P.S. Gary Oldman (Dr. Dennett Norton) manages to come out in tact: One of the few actors out there seemingly immune to bad direction, scripts, etc.

What’s Not: Jackson's Pat Novak asks, 'Why is America so robo-phobic?' Beats me, Pat... Maybe they saw this movie? Padilha's previous hits (Bus 174, Elite Squad) were made in his native language (Portuguese) so it's possible something got lost in the translation. Why such bad acting? You'll have to ask Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish and Jay Baruchel what their excuses are. Keaton hasn't had a good part in 20 years, Cornish (AKA MC Dusk) is busy preparing her first rap album (not kidding) and Baruchel remains one of the most annoying actors alive (he sounds like Christian Slater with a lisp... stop talking!)

Other annoyances? How about 5'1 (and I think I'm being generous) former Oscar nom Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Detroit's Chief of Police? Who better to "stand up" to the most dangerous city in America? Also, you have to love the scene where Detroit Police (SWAT, no less) bursts into OmniCorp HQ, only to have rent-a-cops place them under arrest, 'Stop! OmniCorp security. Drop your weapons.' Cue real cops' surrender (without blinking an eye.) Incredible.

Worst Line: Alex wakes up to discover he's RoboCop. With Murphy in denial, Norton disassembles Alex's suit, revealing only his head and a few artificial organs. Norton chimes in, 'It's not a suit. It's you.' Great bedside manner Doc! Still, that doesn't come close to touching Alex's, 'If I had a pulse, it would be racing,' before reuniting with his wife (Cornish) and son. Ugh.

Overall: Baruchel's wormy marketer Tom Pope (who comes up with these names?) comments, 'We are going to make a lot of money.' With a budget north of $130 million, he must be nuts. RoboCop is D.O.A. and has zero chance of securing a sequel. There's no story whatsoever, and it's insulting to toss out a guy in a suit with a gun; and expect us to believe he's invincible. Note to bad guys: Shoot him in the face! It's fully exposed for the last 30 minutes of the movie. Kinnaman is lifeless in the starring role, a far cry from his sterling turns in Easy Money and it's sequel. When you get down to it: RoboCop is dumb. End of story. Don't see it.

Grade: F