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This image released by Columbia Pictures shows Joel Kinnaman, left, and Abblie Cornish in a scene from "RoboCop." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Kerry Hayes)
Movie review: This new ‘RoboCop’ needs tune-up
Review » A good cast can’t help revive this banal remake of the 1987 original.
First Published Feb 12 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Feb 13 2014 12:40 pm

It’s funny that the new remake of "RoboCop" should make references to the Tin Man of "The Wizard of Oz," because this unnecessary do-over of the 1987 cult favorite not only is searching for a brain, but it also needs a heart.

In this flashier, more special-effects-laden version, Joel Kinnaman ("The Killing") plays Detroit police officer Alex Murphy, a detective who was investigating a drug ring and police corruption when a car bomb critically injured him.

At a glance



The remake of Paul Verhoeven’s classic pulp science-fiction movie lacks the original’s bite and heart.

Where » Theaters everywhere

When » Opens Wednesday

Rating » Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality and some drug material.

Running time » 118 minutes.

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So a mega-corporation, Omnicorp, and its CEO, Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), put Murphy back together with powerful robotic parts and computer chips to prove to the public that they can create a robotic cop with human emotions to guide it.

In order to control the new RoboCop, Sellars has his chief scientist (Gary Oldman) tone down Murphy’s emotions and focus the robot’s mission on solving crime. Of course, things go horribly wrong, and Murphy begins to think for himself. Not only does he pursue solving his own attempted murder, but he tries to reach out to his grieving wife and child against Omnicorp’s orders.

While it follows the same template as the original movie, which starred Peter Weller and was directed by Dutch bad-boy director Paul Verhoeven ("Starship Troopers," "Basic Instinct"), it doesn’t have any of the original’s witty bite, shocking gore or subversive sense of humor (a PG-13 "RoboCop"?). This is a more straightforward "RoboCop," with only a few doses of action and drama that result in a bland and uninvolving science-fiction story. Case in point: It took nearly two-thirds of the movie just to get Murphy out of the lab and onto the streets to hunt down crooks.

Which is too bad, because never has a better cast been wasted on such banal material. Oldman, Keaton, Jackie Earle Haley as another crooked cop and Abbie Cornish ("Sucker Punch") as Murphy’s wife try to breathe what life they can into the remake. Most disappointing of all is Kinnaman, a fine actor in TV’s "The Killing" who could have given a darker edge from that series’ character to "RoboCop’s" Murphy if the filmmakers had allowed him to. Instead, he’s just a man locked up in a tin can with no emotions — just as Omnicorp wanted him.


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