It’s 2028 in Detroit and detective Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) and his partner are fighting a losing battle against crooked cops and gangland criminals, which results in a bomb attack on Murphy, leaving him severely injured. The injuries leave him no option but to enter a programme attempting to interface a human brain with an artificial intelligence software program, allowing him to become the most important crime-fighting weapon to ever walk the streets. The problem for RoboCop is he and others may be misinformed as to exactly what his primary role is and what purpose his entry into the police force serves.
There is very little that links this reimagining of our favourite cyborg cop to its origins in the 1980s, which is refreshing. The central themes of US foreign policy, the use of technology that lacks the human thought process and right wing media intervention in political life boast a nobility that reflects a deeper thinking than most actioners on the market right now. Whether or not it ever really communicates its message to the fullest extent is questionable, but it has a good heart. It spends as much, if not more, time pondering the morality of the entire process rather than blowing things up and when the action does come it doesn’t pack the punch that you would have hoped. One particular scene involving some target practice for RoboCop is quite entertaining, but there is a computer game feel to the action scenes that simply doesn’t work.
The cast are not asked for much, with Oldman convincing as the morally challenged surgeon who is responsible for bringing RoboCop to life, while Keaton delivers a decent performance as the morally corrupt head of OmniCorp. Kinnaman has little to do as RoboCop so he can’t really screw it up, and the addition of Samuel L Jackson playing another form of his angry self will amuse, but not really entertain.
With big ideas and a capable cast RoboCop will surprise. It’s just a pity it falls short at the final hurdle when you need the action to match the high-minded ideas it’s built on.