Samuel L. Jackson’s recent interview with a Los Angeles TV station got a lot of attention when the anchor apparently mistook him for Laurence Fishburne. But look past that awkward encounter with KTLA’s Sam Rubin and you’ll find a revealing moment when it comes to the “RoboCop” remake.
“When I heard they were making a remake, I wondered why,” Jackson says on the program. “I read it, still didn’t know why. But when they told me José Padilha was going to direct it, I was really interested in doing it ?”
That nicely sums up everything that’s right and wrong with this new take on everyone’s favorite automaton-human hybrid police officer. Brazilian filmmaker Padilha is a significant talent, best known for his “Elite Squad” movies, about a police unit in his native country, and the riveting documentary “Bus 174.”
His depiction of Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), a Detroit detective circa 2028 who is remade as the titular figure after being severely injured by a car bomb, is filled with lustrous surfaces and futuristic corporate edifices. There’s texture and clarity to the action, as the camera tracks and pans alongside RoboCop while he fulfills his task of taking down bad guys before shifting focus to his attempted murder.
Still, there’s only so much Padilha can do with a perfunctory script that offers little time for character development and even less time to thoughtfully consider the story’s philosophical ramifications.
And RoboCop’s quest for vengeance hardly resonates, in no small part because Kinnaman’s performance is a major letdown, a one-dimensional effort in which his robotic side triumphs over the human one.
Directed by José Padilha
Starring Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Samuel L. Jackson