Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop is undoubtedly one of the best action movies of the 1980s, and after earning over $53 million at the box office on a $13 million budget while also going down a storm with fans and critics alike, it was inevitable that a franchise was coming.
However, both sequels completely missed the point of what made the original such a success in the first place, with Verhoeven disguising a pitch black comedy and social satire on consumerism and corporate culture as an explosive actioner. Given that no marketable property is ever truly over, though, there was an air of resigned acceptance when a remake was first announced in 2010.
On paper, the ingredients were certainly there for the all-new RoboCop to be a worthy successor to the original. Director Jose Padilla was making his Hollywood debut fresh from helming the acclaimed Brazilian crime thriller Elite Squad and follow-up Enemy Within, leading man Joel Kinnaman had been pegged as a rising star and veterans Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman were on board to provide the gravitas.
2014’s version may have been a decent-sized hit after raking in $242 million globally, but reviews were lukewarm at best. The general consensus is that besides the title, the movie wasn’t really RoboCop at all and was just the latest in a long line of glossy Hollywood sci-fi actioners. In a recent interview, Kinnaman attempted to explain why the blockbuster didn’t come close to matching the original classic, and here’s what he had to say:
“What I feel like the whole movie didn’t take into account is what the fans loved about the original. And you have to pay homage to that. And I think the producers and the filmmakers, and me included, didn’t really understand how to do that in the right way. I think it’s a really solid movie, it just didn’t fit the RoboCop concept.
That was the first big movie I did. I had to quell all my instincts for everything over the course of that film. I’m like, ‘Why am I wearing a black suit? That doesn’t make any sense at all’. The first interview I did for RoboCop, and it was right after I was cast, I got the first questions for RoboCop, and the question was, ‘So, is it going to be R-rated?’. And I was like, ‘Of course, it’s going to be R-rated. Only an idiot would make RoboCop a PG-13 movie’. Cut to the next morning, 47 missed calls I woke up to.”
Obviously, there are still no plans for RoboCop to ride off into the sunset just yet, with filmmaker Abe Forsythe taking over from Neill Blomkamp on RoboCop Returns, while a prequel series focusing on the rise to power of OCP chief Dick Jones is also in development. Let’s just hope they both go back to what made the original so great and return the franchise to its former glories.