In Verhoeven's original, binary copies of good and evil were interchangeable, removing individual ethics from the equation and allowing the satirical attacks on corporate influence over legislative law to come to the fore. Sadly, Padilha's RoboCop rigidly obeys the tried and tested formula of contemporary frenetic blockbusters, its flimsy script littered with pantomime villains, ostentatious gadgets and ultimately lacking in any semblance of narrative tension. Tragically starved of its own ideas, Padilha's reboot makes an indolent attempt at replicating the satire of its predecessor via Samuel L. Jackson's confrontational news anchor, yet a lack of subversive acumen means this flagrantly theatrical showmanship fails to articulate the message with any sense of authority. Attempting to represent the disconnect between body and mind in a society enslaved by an addiction to material wealth, Murphy's mechanised self should make for the perfect embodiment of technological dependence.
However, thanks to a complete absence of empathy derived from Kinnaman's rigid performance, and the film's pandering to the market's perceived appetite for high octane, 12A-approved action, the body's significance is diminished. The physical and emotional torture associated with Murphy's transformation is never truly examined, and his role as a metaphor for the changing shape of society into one contorted and controlled by corporate influence is entirely absent. Lacking both the satirical punch and the genuine fun Verhoeven's film had in abundance, RoboCop is ultimately a pedestrian, functional action movie that leaves the sour aftertaste of an opportunity missed.
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