It will likely come as no surprise to regular readers of this site that we love RoboCop here at Fact Fiend which of course means we fucking hate the 2014 remake. A lazy, toothless reboot that misses the point of the thing it’s based on so hard Zack Snyder may as well have an executive producing credit on it. Something no better summed up than by the fact the one interesting thing it did differently was only mentioned in a deleted scene.
So there’s a lot to criticise about the 2014 RoboCop remake, though the most common complaint is that it’s just, not good. Like it’s a decent action movie that looks pretty good, but it lacks the biting social satire and visual flair of the original.
All of which could have been forgiven if the film at least delivered on the action part but due to studio mandates the film had to be a PG-13 at most. A baffling decision given that the original literally rebuilt an entire set because the director didn’t think a guy being shot to pieces by a bipedal war-crime-bot didn’t eat shit hard enough.
Then you have the design of RoboCop himself, which was was widely criticised for somehow looking worse than the 1980’s version. Like seriously, look at the detail on the original costume. The slightly inhuman proportions, the harsh jagged edges where you can see human flesh that has been cruelly seared and bolted onto machined steel. This isn’t even getting into the sound design which punctuates every step, glance and movement with a whir of gears all of which combined with Peter Weller’s performance truly sells you on the idea that this is a man trapped inside of a machine.
The remake on the other hand looks like Joel Kinnaman is wearing a knock off Iron Man outfit while his performance is too, human and not nearly stilted and awkward enough. Which is weird because that’s exactly the kind of performance he gives in near enough all of his other roles.
Anyway perhaps the most maligned detail of the Reboot RoboCop design is the truly baffling decision to leave RoboCop with a singular human hand.
Now the obvious and ironically heavy handed point being made here is that a human being is pulling the trigger when RoboCop shoots someone in the dick. Without getting too film school student on everyone, the film’s is trying (with a big emphasis on try here) to make a point about drone warfare. Which is neat, though personally we think the original films message about the over-militarisation of the police and and massive corporate entities valuing profit over human life is still pretty relevant today and could have just been taken wholesale.
The problem with this decision though is that it makes no sense within the context of the story. You see, the whole point of RoboCop is that he doesn’t have any of the weak-points an ordinary human has. Something the original film rather explicitly lays out when RoboCop’s creator Bob Morton says, basically to camera, that he wants total body prosthesis. Telling an engineer who explains that they can save Alex Murphy’s arm that there’s no point as a robotic limb is superior to it in every way that matters for a Detroit-based police officer. Which is code for it’s bulletproof and he’s probably gonna be getting shot at, like a lot.
As it turns out, the remake did explain the decision to leave RoboCop with a human hand, in a deleted scene, which notes that the decided to leave Alex Murphy with a singular human limb so that he could shake hands with members of the public. In essence, leaving him with the ability to form superficial human contact to put people at ease even though he’s a walking tank with who can uppercut your spine out of your body. A kind of genius bit of satire they of course left out of the film because they didn’t want anybody thinking too much about it.