Michael Keaton is Raymond Sellars, head of the international robotics conglomerate, OmniCorp, who has a world monopoly on robots that are peacekeepers. Now he pushes for America to follow suit with robots as policemen, ones who have no emotions to interfere with their directives and who make no mistakes — supposedly. When Alex Murphy’s life hangs by a thread as the result of a car bomb, his body mangled, all extraneous flesh is cut away and replaced by robotics except for his lungs, heart, and brain, though his brain can be manipulated by computer, made to stop and go at the will of the operator. Yet, unlike all-metal robots, this half-breed still retains his memories and his emotions, which causes problems. Something has to be done about it from the conglomerate’s bottom-line point of view. And, ah, as Hamlet would say, there’s the rub.
It doesn’t sound so bad, this movie, when you break it down into its plot components. In fact, we are invited to exalt and ponder the fact that the human soul can surmount all repression and restraint, and rise up against the tyranny that seeks to undermine the mind and spirit. Sounds noble . . . It might have been if it were written better. It might have been if it had moved forward with less lethargy. It might have been with someone vital in the lead role.
In order to get a little “action buzz” about halfway through the movie, I had to sit through the boring first half where it tries, and fails, to make the viewer bond with the sweet, darling family of good cop Alex Murphy. Ho-hum. Lame. And no, I didn’t. Bond, that is. The good actors hired for splash and color were wasted on this nondescript script. The words “good acting” are in no way applied in this instance to Joel Kenneman (RoboCop), or Abbie Cornish as his wife Clara Murphy. The only time Kenneman stood out on-screen was in the metal suit with the face plate down accompanied by the computerized commanding voice.
As it was, Michael Keaton was wasted and Jennifer Ehle was thrown away in a particularly dull role as the corporate assistant, where she appeared and spoke a few words in brief cameo flashes. I have never forgotten Jennifer Ehle in the role of Lizzie from Pride and Prejudice. She’s been wasted ever since.
A smattering of humor was injected with the appearance of Samuel L. Jackson parodying the antics of Rush Limbaugh, and, if I’m not mistaken, there were a few livening flashes of color in the performance of Jackie Earle Haley as the robot master Rick Mattox. But they were not enough to light any fires in this wooden remake. Maybe it was kept in a damp basement too long.