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RoboCop (DQ)


Stars: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L Jackson, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley, Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Aimee Garcia, Michael Kenneth Williams

Director: José Padilha

A state-of-the-art but somewhat perfunctory re-shaping of Paul Verhoeven's iconic 1987 film. Swedish actor Kinnaman is understandably more personable as ill-fated cop Alex Murphy before he falls victim to a car bomb and sustains what the medical profession gently refers to as life-changing injuries: i e there isn't much left of him, than as RoboCop himself.

This division of appeal is understandable, although Peter Weller in the old movie managed to convey a sense of pain and pathos that Kinnaman misses here.

At any rate, his mortal remains are soon encased in hi-tech, fully-functioning body armour, courtesy of scientific genius Gary Oldman, and let loose on the streets of Detroit: one reason, perhaps, why the population of that city has decreased dramatically in recent times.

RoboCop does make one break for freedom from Oldman's Chinese facility, but is abruptly shut down, landing face forward in a paddy field, the camera panning upwards to reveal he is, in fact, un-life-threateningly face-up.

This is a film that takes quite a while to get going, the first hour or so being a torpid trudge through advanced science; but the last hour, which sees the Brazilian director come into his own, is undeniably a maelstrom of mayhem, as RoboCop closes in not only on his own would-be assassins, but on the OmniCorp company that controls him, led by Michael Keaton with a wolfish smile and an eye to making his first trillion.

The sexual problems of RoboCop's reunion with his wife (Cornish, making what she can of the role) are ignored, as are pretty well any problems on an adult emotional level; but this is a 12A film and even the violence is strictly from comic strips, albeit fast-paced and furious.

It's not suitable incidentally, for those averse to flashing images or handheld cameras: migraine and nausea would be a pretty unpleasant combination.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: StudioCanal (MGM/Columbia). Colour by deluxe.
117 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 06 Feb 2014