In my other life, I fight crime. I’m also a film nerd, and as you might expect, I don’t generally enjoy remakes and reboots. And as I’m a huge fan of RoboCop, you might think I’d be down on this trailer, and this movie. But I’m not. If anything, I’m excited.
A Beat-By-Beat Remake Makes No Sense
One thing all the complaining about a RoboCop remake has missed is that it’s a satire of the excesses of the 1980s. For the time it was a biting and pungent film, spoofing the meatheaded excesses of muscle-bound action stars, fear of crime, and the unfettered and very public corporate arrogance of the time. But things have changed. We’re not scared of roving gangs of crackheads anymore, but the NSA looking through our email and drone strikes. So remaking the movie slavishly made no sense… but a story about a corporation abusing our safety and privacy is practically cutting edge.
What This Trailer Isn’t Showing You
First of all, there’s a lot that’s not featured here that we’ve heard about. Remember ED-209’s murder of a young executive that opens the original movie? Here it’s in the Middle East; America is using law enforcement robots overseas that don’t really work, even though nobody asked them to. And now they want to use them in America. RoboCop isn’t a hero: he’s a press initiative to make Americans comfortable with being watched 24/7 by heartless machines.
And Thus, Why I’m Excited
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to be a serious look at NSA spying and safety versus liberty. Just like the first one, that’s probably mostly going to be subtext underneath and between the explosions and mooks getting shot in the face.
But there’s the potential here for an R-rated action movie that’s both big dumb fun and genuinely thoughtful about what drones and computers are capable of, and whether we should allow them control. And when was the last time you could say that about a major Hollywood movie?
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.