As beloved movie titles go, you’d be hard pressed to find one more iconic than Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop (1987). A well-judged mix of action and satire, it’s still regarded as one of the best action movies ever made.
Understandably then, the announcement of a RoboCop reboot initially drew a lukewarm reaction. Indeed, nostalgia combined with other underwhelming sci-fi reboots of recent times – one of which was Total Recall, another Verhoeven brainchild – make RoboCop a risky box office proposition, regardless of how many big names (Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton) are present.
Though there will be a number of differences between the remake and the original, the basic premise is more or less intact: Detroit cop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is critically injured and then resurrected as a cybernetic law enforcement officer against his will. There is one major difference though; whilst the 1987 original had Murphy slowly becoming self-aware that he is a machine, here our protagonist will be very much aware of what he’s become.
The marketing campaign has been on a big push of late, as Josè Padilha’s remake nears its release next month. Following the recently released TV spots, we now have our first extended look at the newly suited and booted Alex in action courtesy of IGN (you can watch the clip at the top of this post).
For all the reservations that have been voiced about Padilha’s remake, one advancement seems all but guaranteed; the action sequences will be much slicker. That notion is certainly exemplified in the above footage, with Robocop dispatching drones with ease in a field test supervised by Gary Oldman’s scientist and Jackie Earle Haley’s military tactician.
In some ways, it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t quandary for RoboCop. Too close to the original and be accused of lack of creativity, but too altered and face the wrath of fans for being too irreverent. Whether Padilha’s remake has successfully walked that tightrope ultimately remains to be seen, but what we’ve seen so far hasn’t done much to raise hopes, and the new clip won’t do much to change sceptical minds. With that said, the fresh ideas at play in addition to some well-executed action may yet gel into a worthwhile movie.
Josè Padilha's RoboCop remake gets its US release on February 12, 2014.