They remade Robocop and, perhaps not surprising, the results are not great. You’re probably already familiar with the story of Robocop and how it was told in Verhoeven’s original 80’s classic featuring the venerable Peter Weller, so I won’t bother you with the specifics. It suffices to know that they’ve done a pretty decent job of updating the film’s premise by focusing on Robocop’s resemblance, in function, to the drones that are already in use in Iraq (and other places…). This provides both an interesting and topical point of departure for the film when they put something ‘organic’ (Joel Kinnaman) into one of those drones and simultaneously illustrate, in a way I hadn’t really considered until now, what it would be like to have your body replaced with a machine. Quite horrible as it turns out.
In that sense, this remake definitely has something going for it, but it fails in most other areas. The writing sucked and the action scenes are offensively uninspired. I really don’t understand how you get to direct an action film when you so obviously don’t have an eye for it, José Padilha. Furthermore, about halfway through, they turn the film into some kind of open-world, videogame fetch-quest type of experience where Robocop uses his newly unlocked abilities to start grinding through his fucking quest log. Who comes up with this stuff?
In short then: the Robocop remake poses an interesting question but it fails to come up with any answers. And the rest of film’s direction certainly doesn’t do anything to accentuate Robocop’s phenomenological crisis. Just go watch the original, it has Miguel Ferrer doing blow off a prostitute before getting shot and left with nothing but gaping holes in his legs and a going away present that has a 4 second fuse, courtesy of Kurtwood Smith. See, twenty-seven years later I still remember that.