|At first sight, Robocop isn't as instantly off-putting as Total Recall, last year's po-faced attempt by Underworld's Len Wiseman to excise all the fun from Verhoeven's brilliantly barmy 1991 Arnold Schwarzenegger romp. There are clear shifts in the origins story, but nothing quite as infuriating as Wiseman's decision not actually to bother with the bit where everyone heads to Mars.|
The suit is certainly a conversation starter, and has proved unpopular with fans of the original. Less bulky than the outfit worn by Peter Weller, and in matt black rather than shiny steel, its insectoid look is undoubtedly sinister. Then there's the fact that Joel Kinnaman, as cop Alex Murphy, is not actually dead when he becomes Robocop. Just … you know … radically messed up.
I also find it slightly offputting, though weirdly comforting as a fan of the series, that Kinnaman appears to be channelling Stephen Holder, the US Killing's cop, in the film's pre-Robocop scenes. Maybe Mireille Enos will turn up later on as a mini-Robo sidekick with dysfunctional mom tendencies.
Not that Padilha, who has promised the film will tackle the highly topical issue of drone politics, needs any additions to what is a killer cast. The much-missed Michael Keaton steps into Ronny Cox's shoes as the film's corporate villain, with Gary Oldman as deranged scientist Dr Dennett Norton and Samuel L Jackson as preachy media mogul Pat Novak. Abbie Cornish is the long-suffering wife, presumably pondering a future of family holidays stymied by her husband's serious antipathy towards airport metal detectors.
This looks like a leaner, meaner Robocop, but will Padilha's take bring enough verve and imagination to the table to make the second coming of Murphy a thing of wonder? Or are you already imagining the filmic equivalent of ED209, the ineffective and ultimately abortive replacement for Robocop in Verhoeven's 1987 original?