Film Review: RoboCop

Reviewed by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton. Directed by José Padilha.

[Stars: 3.5/5]

Robots. Not sure about you, but when I think of futuristic robots, this comes to mind.

The world is very different ever since the robotic uprising of the mid-nineties.

OK, OK, the new flick RoboCop is nothing like this. And that’s probably a good thing. Alas, RoboCop is even more futuristic than the year 2000.

The year is 2028. Multinational company OmniCorp is developing and distributing robot soldier technology to the Middle East and other overseas locations. While the US is happy to use OmniCorp’s soldiers in overseas military situations, the nation is more than a little hesitant to introduce such a police force on home soil. But OmniCorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Keaton) can smell the dollars, and searches for an injured cop to bring back to life via a mechanic revival.

It’s just as well that policeman Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is blown to smithereens in an explosion. After he is discovered, literally all that is left of him is his head, lungs and hand which, if you’re squeamish, isn’t a pleasant sight. Under the watch of Dr. Dennett Norton (Oldman), Murphy is salvaged and born again as man-meets-machine RoboCop. RoboCop has advanced smarts, formidable strength and starts lowering the crime rate of the city.

RoboCop is a remake of the 1987 Paul Verhoeven film of the same name, and like most reboots, it doesn’t match the original. But director Padilha has done a pretty good job with this. It’s slick, moves quickly, and raises some serious ethical questions along the way. It portrays the not-too-distant future in an exciting light – though I’m surprised for all the technological advances that they weren’t able to discover the technology required to stop RoboCop’s constant whirring at every movement. And add laser beam shooting eyes.

Unfortunately there’s not really any 80s throwbacks to this remake, other than a few music motifs. What I would have appreciated in this film is more humour. Much of the action is very cold and emotionless (but this fits with the machine-centric story). And seriously, Samuel L. Jackson’s news anchor is just unnecessary. Just wait until the final scene. Ugh.

As I mentioned earlier, this film is all about man vs. machine. The filmmakers spook us with this future where robots are starting to gain some level of control (as Elysium did last year) but with Murphy/RoboCop the lines are very blurred. As he is resurrected, he becomes more and more machine to the point that he loses almost all emotion. He loses his humanity.

Watching RoboCop made me thankful for the way that God designed us. He made us human, and in his image. He designed us to be these intricate beings that technology simply cannot replicate. He gave us the ability to reason and to think ethically. He gave us emotions that no machine can experience.

But although God made us perfect, humans are flawed by sin because of the fall. We humans are all corrupt due to our rebellion against God.

Despite being made in his image, we all chose to reject our creator and live our own way. That’s why we need Jesus to restore us. He fixes us, gives us a new heart, and restores us in a way that technology never ever could. In Romans 7:24-25a, Paul writes:

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Machines aren’t the answer to human imperfection. Jesus is. He is the perfect human – and God himself – and he has entered into humanity to redeem us, free us us, and perfect us, through his death in our place.

RoboCop is a successful remake that helps us to consider who we are, and the flaws of technology.  It’s just a shame that the silly elements let the film down. Be aware that there is violence but nowhere near the level of the 1987 original. I’m giving RoboCop three-and-a-half out of five stars.

RoboCop is screening now in cinemas everywhere.

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