When I settled down with my sister and her boyfriend to watch RoboCop, I was fully expecting it to be terrible.
Now, Apple TV did give it 4 out of 5 stars; but out of experience, you can’t always trust the ratings on these sorts of things. I’d prepared myself for some good quality sh*t. Some fun action crap. But it actually went quite a lot deeper than that.
Alex Murphy, cop, husband, and father, is left half dead after his car blows up and leaves him in a steaming mess. His wife has to make a difficult decision- either she lets him die as a human being. Or, she allows OmniCorp, a company focused on robotics design, develop what’s left of him into the first cyborg. When Murphy wakes up and finds that all that’s left of him is his head, his lungs, his heart and a single hand, it’s safe to say that he has a bit of a freak out.
The audience is lead through Muprhy’s acceptance of what’s happened, his fear in the face of loosing practically everything he once knew, trapped inside a metal body. Director José Padilha chose an interesting direction for this movie, choosing to focus largely on the moral dilemmas of man vs machine, consciousness and free will rather than providing an hour and a half of shoot outs and explosions. It was a nice surprise, being met with an interesting villain, OmniCorp, grappling with the legalities and ethics of using- controlling– a cyborg to clear up the crime riddled streets of America.
That being said, it did feel a bit laboured, almost. If the film had been more introspective in style, had gone for a more, sort of, Batman style darkness and pace, it would have been more successful. And the dystopian atmosphere would have been captured a little better. Or, they could have chosen the crappy explosion route, but I’m actually quite glad they didn’t.
I do think that they could have melded the two together a bit better. If there’d been more focus on the transition from Murphy’s initial fear and denial to his understanding of his body, more insight into what he could do, I think the film would have flowed far better. There weren’t enough scenes of RoboCop kicking ass and making sassy remarks after blowing stuff up, which would have been fun. It would have brought some more context, and perhaps humour to the movie, which would in turn have made the more philosophical parts more poignant. It is possible to make an action movie both thought provoking and fast paced, and I’m not sure if RoboCop quite caught that balance.
As it is, though, I think RoboCop was surprisingly good, and not at all what I was expecting.