How can this film be both fun and intellectually stimulating? How can that be possible?
If ever there was a time to question my taste in films, even I have to admit that I have never been more vulnerable. After raving about The Lego Movie, I now am flatly endorsing RoboCop. For you religious fanatics, it is now apparent that the “End Is Near”.
The fact is that RoboCop hides its political message with the same ingenuity as The Lego Movie. Focusing on a brutally injured Detroit police officer who is now forced to resume life as a robotic version of Robert Downey’s Ironman, the film centers on a withering attack on the way politics and national news are handled on TV.
The plot is actually pretty effective as you watch Detroit police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) suffer massive injuries in an assassination attack by local thugs. Left with only a face and right hand undamaged, he is regenerated by a national company looking to sell its robots to a reluctant United States. After all, if you don’t trust industrial machines to keep the peace on the street, what if they are part human?
Fortunately, the film by Director Jose Padilha takes this premise to unanticipated heights. Abbie Cornish is wonderful as Mr. Kinnaman’s wife, a woman who simply won’t sit back without asking the obvious question, namely “What in the hell is going on with my husband”?
It is here that the strength of the film skyrockets with wonderful performances by Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldmam and Michael Keaton. Keaton owns OmniCorp, the company that is trying to sell his robotic protectors of the law internationally, and his first concern is always making money for his business.
You quickly learn the sinister nature of these robots with a heartbreaking scene early in the film showing them allegedly keeping peace in Tehran. While publicly claiming that Iranian citizens embrace the ability to walk freely in the streets, you see them wince repeatedly when forced to identify themselves to these lifeless, motorized mutations of actual human beings.
Mr. Oldman is always at the top of his game, here playing the doctor who has engineered the process that has allowed Mr. Kinnaman to mutate into the world’s first human RoboCop. Dedicated to both scientific and moral principles, he gradually discovers that he has created a modern-day version of Frankenstein.
However, the movie belongs to Samuel L. Jackson, playing Pat Novak, the host of a national TV show. The viewer watches him emulate what we have been forced to accept on daily TV and radio news shows across the country for years.
In the process, he becomes an amalgam of present day national sycophants like Bill O’Reilly, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, Ed Schultz, Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, Fox News and on and on and on. Mr. Jackson embraces all of these mouthpieces with their dedication to an unmoving political philosophy, nothing more and nothing less.
It’s never about what is best for the country, but rather what they profess to believe in. If you are a conservative, then you hate President Obama, pure and simple. Like the Republicans in Congress, you oppose everything he advances simply because you are a dedicated conservative.
On the other side, you have people like Chris Matthews who simply yell at opponents under the guise of asking a question. It is either my way or the highway, and you are left with his daily sanctimonious approach to tell nearly every conservative guest to “leave and don’t let the door hit you in the ass”.
To a lesser extent this offensive jingoistic approach extends to daily newspapers. For example, The Wall Street Journal continues to editorially attack President Obama while largely ignoring that Wall Street has grown fat and sassy during his administration. Here in Indianapolis, we are forced to tolerate the lightweight “Chicks on the Right”, two women who are Indianapolis’ lightweight version of the contemptible Ann Coulter.
In any event, if you decide to challenge yourself and welcome the gradual approach to Spring in a movie theater, then find a way to see both The Lego Movie and RoboCop. I have a strong feeling that you will have a great deal of fun doing both.