Tuesday, April 1, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: Robocop

2014, José Padilha -- cinema

I admit, like Graig, I have no real attachment to the first movie. In fact, I remember seeing it in the theatre and being somewhat pissed off by its comedic overtones.  I would have seen it the year after highschool (yes, Graig and I have an age difference) and I don't think I much appreciated satire. For me, it was just adding useless goofiness and over the top violence. So, that said, I am not one of the usual of-age geeks who looks back at the original with a don't-touch-my-memories nostalgia.

So, we probably know the basic story.  It's there, in pop culture, whether you saw or enjoyed the original. Hot shot cop is taken down by bad guys and evil mega-corp decides to turn him into the perfect cop via cyborg modification. Of course, in becoming a half-human, half-machine he loses his humanity until... love & family dedication brings it back to him. And this one follows the script, but replaces the heavy handed satire with NeoCon commentary connecting it with the war(s) in the Middle East.

What did it for me were the performances. Seriously. Even now, after the blush of the movie has long worn off, I remember how the actors performed. I have always liked Joel Kinnaman, since I saw him in The Killing. He has a slightly scuzzy exterior meant to play under-cover cops but with an intense sincerity. He carries off the brain-in-a-jar depression quite well. I assumed Michael Keaton would be a toss away role but really, he carried the movie as the likeable horrible business mogul who rocked the casual business wear. And Jackie Earle Haley, who is always brilliant, is just so precisely spot on as the security head rather peeved they are replacing his perfect robots with this icky fleshy thing. These performances, supported brilliantly by Gary Oldman, Abbie Cornish, Samuel L Jackson (not Laurence Fishburne) and Jay Baruchel round out a movie that isn't just about a tin man who finds his heart, but about the heart itself.

Bonus paragraph. Kent and I noted as we came out that the final battle scene was so very truncated, and perfectly so. The movie was not about the Boss Battle, but the hero's journey to that scene where his humanity wins out over his programming. Its a little heavy handed in its metaphor but like the movie's central plot, he is not all combat model, and thus neither is the movie.