Two action movie franchises birthed in the 1980s – RoboCop and Jack Ryan – are getting rebooted for the 21st century, via (respectively) a direct remake of Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 sci-fi cult classic and a Ryan origin story film that is not based on any previously-published material by the late Tom Clancy, titled Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Likewise, both the new RoboCop and Shadow Recruit were – at some point – lined up to hit theaters in 2013, but are now making their debut in the first quarter of 2014.
In RoboCop, we shall get a revised version of how Alex Murphy (now played by The Killing‘s Joel Kinnaman) became the man inside the machine, with updated references to drone warfare and modern corporations instead of the Reagan-era satire found in Verhoeven’s film. A second trailer will drop online later this week, but it’s difficult to imagine that the upcoming preview is going to change many people’s minds about this remake. Indeed, based on responses to the first trailer, there’s a clear divide between newcomers to the RoboCop franchise and longtime fans (who have yet to be convinced that a RoboCop with broader appeal won’t feel like a bit of a sellout).
Featured in the images below are Kinnaman without his shiny black RoboCop armor, Samuel L. Jackson (Oldboy) as a Bill O’Reilly-esque political commentator Pat Novak, Jennifer Ehle (Fifty Shades of Grey) as the Head of Legal Affairs for OmniCorp – the multinational conglomerate behind the RoboCop “product” that is run by Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) – Gary Oldman (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) as the fellow who creates RoboCop, Dr. Dennett Norton; and Jackie Earle Haley (Lincoln) as Maddox, the military tactician who teaches Murphy how to handle his (ahem) newly-acquired guns. Say what you will about this remake, but it’s got a top-notch cast working in its favor.
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Meanwhile, Shadow Recruit stars Chris Pine (Star Trek Into Darkness) as young Jack Ryan, who unexpectedly finds himself upgraded from CIA analyst to field agent when he uncovers a Russian plot to destabilize the U.S. economy. The film was originally slated to hit theaters on Christmas Day this year, but was pushed back to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday frame in 2014 (to make room for Oscar nomination-magnet Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street to hit theaters that day instead).
The first trailer for Shadow Recruit - directed by and costarring Kenneth Branagh (Thor) – makes the film appear to be a decent, if unremarkable addition to the espionage genre. In other words, the delay should work in its favor, seeing how the Jack Ryan reboot doesn’t seem to have enough muscle to duke it out with the heavy-hitters of the upcoming Winter Holiday season. And thus, Paramount has more reason to be confident that this installment can revitalize the Tom Clancy franchise (after the last attempt to reboot the series – with The Sum of All Fears in 2002 – didn’t work out so well as planned).
In addition to a new image of Pine, along with his costar Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina), we have a new international poster for Shadow Recruit, along with a behind the scenes photo that shows Branagh (as director) guiding Pine through the art of fighting your opponent in a hotel bathroom. In all fairness, the chance to see Branagh perform with an evil Russian accent might be enough to justify the price of admission, on its own.
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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens in U.S. theaters on January 17th, 2014.
RoboCop hits U.S. theaters on February 12th, 2014.