Cop movies are fun, robot movies are fun, and this year's remake roster is once again smashing the two genres together in RoboCop, a movie about a cop who becomes a robot. The idea still hasn't really lost its appeal since the 1980s, even if we have seen many more movies that explore the dividing line between man and machine since then.
Directed by José Padilha and scripted by newcomer Joshua Zetumer, the trailers for RoboCop suggest a movie with a distinctly cynical outlook. Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a police officer who is critically injured by a car bomb and is subsequently fitted with a new body made out of mechanical parts. It's effectively a PR stunt for OmniCorp, a company with the agenda of automatizing both the US military and domestic police force, which needs to put a friendly (but obedient) face on its products.
There are quite a lot of players in this conspiracy, all with differing motives, but don't worry if you're feeling confused: a new RoboCop featurette is on hand to explain just who everyone is and who is playing them. Kinnaman has been a growing talent in the action genre ever since his breakout success in Daniel Espinosa's Easy Money, but RoboCop also features an impressive supporting cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Jay Baruchel, Michael Keaton and Abbie Cornish.
As Cornish points out in the featurette, Alex does not give his consent to be augmented into a lean, mean, policing machine, and the concept of free will seems to be a major theme of the movie. It's Alex's wife, Clara (Cornish), who signs the paper allowing OmniCorp to go to work on him, and the scientists program him so that the machine will take over during combat, while also leaving Alex under the illusion that he is still in control.
If it had been set for release in the summer then RoboCop might have risked fading into the background amidst all the fierce competition, but as it stands it's definitely one of the better-looking movies coming out in February. The PG-13 rating and the fact that it's about a guy called RoboCop should secure a respectable audience of younger moviegoers, and die-hard fans of the original will probably go and see it as well - if only to more effectively complain about how inferior it is
RoboCop arrives in theaters on February 12, 2014.