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I do not have specific memories of the original Robocop film, not even sure whether I have actually seen it. So I guess I can go into this new version by José Padilha (who?) with Joel Kinnaman (who?) as titular hero with something of an open mind. While that means that I cannot be disappointed if the film was not true to Verhoeven’s original, it needs to be said that as a stand-alone action piece this is remarkably unremarkable. I was actually already a bit annoyed two minutes in when Samuel Jackson gives a tv host who is just too over-the-top to be convincing, and who unfortunately keeps coming back as a motive. The opening action sequence in Iran is not bad, even though it is cliché-ridden and not very necessary in the film’s context. America will be a cynical imperialist nation in the future that keeps suppressing less worthy or militarily able nations but does not want to get its hands dirty anymore? Ok, I understand the social criticism, but subtle it ain’t.

It gets better once the cop story starts, albeit there is not a single bit of surprise, it plays straight from good cop trying to uncover the bad cops to him getting assaulted, getting rescued, becoming super man-robot cop and fighting his way back from being a machine to being a man. Family values etc. all included.

It is always nice to see Michael Keaton, who seems to be experiencing a well-deserved renaissance these days. As casually ruthless Steve Jobs like figure he may not rise to the peak of his acting abilities here, but given the wooden characters the script provides he is still rather pleasant to watch. As is Gary Oldman, who cannot not provide a bit of quality to any film he’s in.

But then again, what does it matter? The film is all about set pieces, the most elaborately choreographed one actually being a training session that will probably be the one thing to end up for good on YouTube as an alternative video for Focus’ “Hocus Pocus”, and not a bad one either. It is basically a movie version of a one-person shooter video game, or one-robot shooter, and I would not be surprised if that’s exactly what’s waiting around the corner courtesy of Xbox or whatever platform.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1200731-robocop/

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