A remake of the classic cyberpunk RoboCop (1987) directed by Josť Padilha of The Elite Squad fame. Joel Kinnaman stars as Alex Murphy, a Detroit Police Officer who is mutilated by a car bomb and resurrected as an unstoppable cyborg police officer by OmniCorp. Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton play supporting roles.Alex Murphy has Cowboy Cop tendencies that tend to get him in trouble with Da Chief, because he acts on his hunches first. His justification in this case is that since he and his partner were investigating dirty cops, calling for backup would alert the guys they were after. Unfortunately, their attempt to nail the bad guys goes wrong and Murphy's partner Lewis ends up in the hospital.The crime lord the dirty cops work for wants Murphy out of the picture as well, but with his hands clean, since cop killers get the enmity of the entire police force. The dirty cops do the dirty work for him, and tag his car with a bomb. It goes off, burning Murphy badly and damaging his eyes and ears from the concussion. Enter Omni Corp, who has been looking for a way to get their crime-stopping robots on the streets of an American city. The American people don't feel comfortable with a soulless robot who can't feel, so putting a human face on a robot seems to be the ticket. They convince Mrs. Murphy how serious her husband's injuries are, and how setting him up with the cyborg outfitting is his only real chance.Murphy wakes to discover what was done to him, and is horrified. He asks to die, but Dennett Norton, the doctor assigned to him, convinces him to live. The creator and programmer of the fully robotic Omnicorp crimebots regards Murphy as a step down, and calls him Tin Man to his face. When Murphy fails against a fully automated machine, Sellars, the CEO, commands Dr. Norton to make it work. Norton goes against his personal ethics, reprogramming the software to make the decision making fully automated while letting Murphy believe he's made the choices.Back in Detroit, when Murphy is set to be debuted to the public, he has an emotional breakdown when the footage of his own attempted murder is uploaded along with the rest of Detroit PD's database. The only way Norton can see to stop this is to adjust Murphy's brain chemistry so much that he becomes emotionless. This lasts until Murphy's grieving wife reminds him that she and their son are waiting for him. Murphy's humanity reasserts. He hunts down those who tried to kill him, then goes after Omni Corp when they decide to pull the plug since he's acting on his own far more than they planned.
This film provides examples of:
Accentuate the Negative: After Murphy's first test against the EM-208, all anyone wants to talk about (with the possible exception of Dr. Norton) is how his reaction time was slower than the robot — ignoring the fact that his decisions were better choices than the robot's. Indeed, given that an ED-209 gunning down a child was a problem, Murphy's behavior should have been exactly what they wanted.
OCP, the corporation that created RoboCop in the original film trilogy, is now called OmniCorp in the reboot. The ending reveals that OCP is actually the parent company of OmniCorp, making the latter analogous to the Security Concepts division from the original.
Murphy's wife and son are now respectively called Clara and David, instead of Ellen and Jimmy.
The man in charge of the RoboCop project is Dennett Norton, instead of Bob Morton.
In addition to being changed into an African-Americanman, (Anne) Lewis's first name is changed to Jack.
According to supplementary materials, RoboCop's cyborg body is made from graphene as opposed to titanium laminated with Kevlar. It's also stated that the ED-209s and EM-208s are also made from graphene.
According to the toy-line, the silver body is called "RoboCop 1.0" and the black body is "RoboCop 3.0". The proposed version that could transform between a combat and safety mode is likely the missing 2.0. Doubles as a Mythology Gag as the RoboCop 2 from the first movies didn't last long either.
Ascended Extra: Murphy's family now plays a central part in the plot compared to mere flashbacks and cameos in the original.
BFG: It's outright stated that nothing smaller than a .50 cal Beowulf round will harm RoboCop.
Big Brother Is Watching: Downplayed, but it's still there. There are CCTV cameras all over Detroit, and Murphy can wirelessly access the entire network at will. He also has the backlog for the cameras, allowing him to pin crimes on people months or years after the fact. He can trace cell phones whenever he wants. Finally, all of this is correlated in real time with the police database. When he's first linked up, Murphy racks up nearly 200 pending arrests on the spot. What keeps it from being a completely straight example is that only Murphy is capable of doing this. The police have neither the time nor manpower to correlate all this data, while Murphy has a computer linked to his brain that can.
Bloodless Carnage: Even for a PG-13 rated film, it's taken to an extreme level when Murphy shoots Vallon from a few feet with a full clip of his BFG yet leaves no trace on the man afterwards in a distinct close-up. Averted when Murphy guns down Sellars at the end, a spray of blood is visible on the ground behind him.
Body Horror: By the time Murphy becomes RoboCop, the only parts of his original body that he still has are his right hand, lungs, heart and his head with his brain exposed. In the original film, these were the areas of the body where Murphy was shot up by Clarence Boddicker. Murphy is so horrified by the sight he asks never to see himself like this again. Though we do see him this way at the end of the movie, showing that he's become more comfortable with his nature.
Murphy's car bomb injuries are pretty damn horrific. 4th degree burns to over 80% of his body. Double amputations. Permanent blindness in one eye. Tinnitus. Lower spine was severed from upper spine, leading to a lifetime of paralysis. Loads of internal bleeding. Seeing his mutilated body on life support wasn't pleasant in the slightest.
Bottomless Magazines: During his attack on the Omnicorp HQ, Murphy uses both his pistol and M2 Battle Rifle to deliver an incredible amount of lead on the ED-209s. This is telling, considering that Mattox tells Murphy early on that his M2 Battle Rifle holds 30 .50 Beowulf rounds.
Broad Strokes: The premise is virtually identical with comparable characters and similar themes but the overall story is much different, allowing the movie to address different things than the original did. In particular, Murphy was not clinically dead and emerges aware of himself as RoboCop with free will slowly peeled away by manipulating his programming and body chemistry, the inverse of what happens in the original.
Bullets Do Not Work That Way: It is stated that nothing short of a .50 caliber can penetrate Robocop's armor. This would be fine if they were generalizing about rifle rounds, but then the bad guys pull out .50 AE Desert Eagles to battle Robocop, which deliver only slightly more kinetic energy than the standard 5.56 mm NATO rifle round. Meanwhile, a .50 BMG rifle round will punch with almost ten times as much energy. To sum it up, larger caliber does not automatically equal a more powerful firearm. If Robocop can shrug off common rifle rounds, those Desert Eagles shouldn't do anything to him, either.
California Doubling: Toronto stands in as the film's Detroit. A few externals are still of the Motor City to make it more believable.
Chekhov's Gun: In the intro, the overseas press crew is issued red bracelets which mark them as priority assets, to be defended at any cost. In the climax, it's revealed that this doubles as a Restraining Bolt, preventing Murphy from attacking anyone wearing one.
Mattox the mercenary tactician has elements of the original's Boddicker and McDaggett.
Dr. Norton and Jae Kim combine Bob Morton and the trilogy's entire crew of sympathetic OCP scientists like Dr. Marie Lazarus.
Corrupt Cop: The two cops responsible for Murphy's car bomb attack as part of the movie's plot at the start. Both men are working with crime boss Antoine Vallon, hiding evidence of his activities and procuring weapons from Detroit Police impound to sell to Vallon. Later it is revealed the Detroit Chief of Police Karen Dean is one as well.
Crapsack World: The world is a little better than the original but is still bad. Certain fish are in danger of extinction due to overfishing by Sushi restaurants, Brazil has legalized all types of drugs, Greenpeace is now a terrorist group, and Tehran is now under occupation by a US droid army who are so effective in fighting that most citizens choose to accept it out of fear. Meanwhile, crime in Detroit has gotten so bad that the city set up Sinister Surveillance everywhere and yet this still doesn't stop criminals from committing crimes in front of a camera. Also, gangs now have access to military hardware like assault rifles and grenades.
Deadly Dodging: Murphy defeats some ED-209s by making them shoot at each other.
Disastrous Demonstration: Inverted, though it looks like it'll be played straight at first. Minutes prior to his public unveiling, Murphy is given an upload of the entire police database and all CCTV footage for the past few years. Murphy suffers a Heroic BSOD when he sees the footage of his own near-death. Ordered to get him on his feet immediately, Dr Norton tampers with Murphy's neurochemistry to almost completely repress his emotions. Basically running on autopilot, Murphy stomps past his family and ignores the Mayor's outstretched hand, scanning them and everyone else in the crowd for potential threats. Then he spots one — a man wanted for murder — and wastes no time making an arrest while scaring the crowd half to death. The event is then spun as an example of RoboCop's amazing abilities and the incompetence of the human police, who would never have noticed the murderer in their midst.
Disproportionate Retribution: The Iranian teenager who was gunned down by a massive ED-209 because he challenged it with a kitchen knife, which the giant military robot ridiculously considered a serious threat.
The claim that robots are incorruptible is a recurring theme in the movie. No matter how this could be "true", their makers are still corruptible and can tamper with these robots in their favor. The theme becomes a metaphor of the law and lawmakers who are also lawbreakers; machine glitches are as analogous to loopholes in the law.
The subtle satire of how OmniCorp's droid armies in foreign countries are hailed by the media, yet the American public objects being under robotic law enforcers via the Dreyfuss Act, using children as a main point of argument. By the film's conclusion, the public remained against droid enforcers except the sole humane cyborg as their own crimefighter, all the while other countries' insurgents and their children who are against soulless droids remain gunned down.
Dramatic Irony: Early on, Murphy and Lewis accuse a gun runner they're investigating of being a cop, when they themselves are cops.
Eagleland: The Novak Element basically has this for the show itself. The last shot of the movie has Novak adamantly declaring that American nationalism is self-righteous awesome, whilst a holographic American flag is the background.
The Evils of Free Will / Weapon Wields You: When paired off against an ED-208 in the simulator, Murphy turns out to be several seconds slower as his reflexes are affected by human decision-making processes. Under pressure from his boss to get results, Dr Norton writes Murphy's software so that it takes over in combat situations, while signals are sent into Murphy's brain giving him the illusion of controlling events.
Subverted in that although Murphy's decisions are slower than the EM-208s, they're generally better decisions.
Expy: "The Novak Element" can be seen as one for Fox News in general with how Novak cuts off Senator Dreyfuss in midsentence because they are pushing a pro-robotics spin. Similar methods have actually been used on Fox News programs, and some groups refuse to accept invitations because they don't believe they will receive fair air time.
OmniCorp Security is based on the Urban Rehabilitators from RoboCop 3, as both groups use grey camouflage.
Expanded Universe: The Boom! comics highlights how Sellars has tried to make RoboCops out of mortally wounded soldiers who fought overseas. They all resulted in failures.
Funny Background Event: Most of the news that scrolls along the bottom explains the general state of the world in 2029. Apparently, many Americans are now illegally entering Mexico, and we've made first contact via SETI. Oddly enough, the aliens had deemed us dumb.
There's also the bit where Greenpeace, now a terrorist organization, have been hacked by a Wikileaks hacker.
Gory Discretion Shot: Near the start, a bunch of insurgents try to attack the OmniCorp robots in Tehran. After their attack is repelled, the son of one of them takes a knife and rushes down from his apartment to try to charge an ED-209. The camera cuts from the ED-209's Robo Cam POV shot of the boy to outside, where we only see it blasting away.
Homage: Kinnaman's grey suit motif is very similar to Weller's 1987 suit down to every intricate detail.
Also the established-to-be image-conscious Omnicorp uploading all of the information into Murphy's head right before the unveiling press event. They are given the idiot ball so the plot can move forward.
I Have a Family: When Murphy brutally interrogates one of Vallon's street thugs, the later begs for mercy, stating he has a wife and kids. Unfortunately for the thug, Murphy has access to all information on criminals and a quick search reveals that not only did the guy's wife leave him for domestic abuse, he also has no children.
Interrupted Intimacy: Murphy is smooching with his wife in their bedroom when the car alarm goes off. When he goes to shut it off, a bomb planted in his car earlier explodes.
It's Personal: Rick Mattox tells Murphy that tasering him might be just a little personal on his part, as Murphy did the same earlier in the movie.
Once Murphy overcomes his programming, he gets right back to investigating who blew him up.
Insane Troll Logic: Citing Murphy's success in drastically reducing the crime rate, Novak says that those who oppose the Dreyfuss Act repeal must be "pro-crime".
The Law of Diminishing Defensive Effort: Less prominent than in the original 1987 film, but it's still there. Murphy is much more agile and it's shown he does make an effort to dodge incoming fire and utilize cover at least some of the time, but one of his favored tactics is still to walk out into the middle of the room and shoot everything while being shot at from multiple angles.
Life or Limb Decision: Murphy shoots off one of his arms when it's pinned under an ED-209 and two more are bearing down on him.
Lightning Bruiser: Robocop is faster and way more agile than the original 1987 version, being able to run at high speeds, leap tall walls in a single bound, and even dodge gunfire and rockets. He's still a super-strong, heavily-armored robot, although perhaps slightly less nigh-invulnerable than the original version owing to his slimmer physique and more biological components.
Logo Joke: Instead of Leo the Lion roaring in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer symbol, we hear Novak's vocal warm-up exercises before his talk show goes to air.
Loophole Abuse: The Dreyfuss Act prevents armed robots being deployed in the US so OmniCorp uses the cyborg RoboCop since he's technically an armed human.
Inverted later when Murphy's combat software is programmed to make all his shoot/don't shoot decisions for him, yet give him the illusion of free will. The OmniCorp officials worry that this is illegal, but Sellars gets round this by declaring that Murphy is just a robot that thinks he's human.
Mecha-Mook: The ED-208 humanoid robots and the XT-908 flying attack drone. Also ED-209 model returns,but this time its actually a credible threat.
Mega Corp.: Downplayed with OmniCorp, which is primarily a defence contractor with a branch into cybernetic limbs for amputees. Especially since they're just part of the original movie's OCP.
Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Amusingly done as part of an In-Universe marketing strategy to make RoboCop look cooler. Early set photos showed the black version of the suit, which upset fans until it's revealed the classic silvery blue is still in the movie. At the end he goes back to the blue.
Missing Trailer Scene: While all the scenes in the trailer are in the movie, the sound effects on RoboCop's voice in the trailer were never used in the movie.
Mythology Gag: The entire movie has similar plot and characters to the 1987 original intermingled with elements from its two sequels.
The film even begins with a heavily-armed ED-209 opening fire on a knife-wielding child, mirroring Mr. Kinney's death at the start of the first film.
Murphy's only remaining biological components correspond to the majority of the parts Boddicker and his gang shot. The fact that he still has a functional hand also recalls Bob Morton's decision to ditch the original Murphy's good arm even though it could have been saved, since he wanted him to be all robot save the brain.
Murphy tasting "peanut butter" in his mouth while Norton is working on his brain is a possible reference to the "baby food" organic paste which is the only food that Murphy's system can digest.
During Murphy's VR training, Rick Mattox inverts the "I'd buy that for a dollar!" catchphrase that Bixby Snyder used in the first film in a banal sitcom.
The film references the original 1987 RoboCop grey suit as its prototype design. A version dubbed "combat mode" is an exact copy of that design, before it's rejected in favor of the "more tactical" black refit. After the black suit redesign and the plot reached its climax, they revert Murphy back to the first design in true Book Ends form.
The term "Red Asset", identified by a electronic bracelet as VIPs, refers to the secret, classified Fourth Directive within RoboCop's programming which prevents him from harming OCP officers.
The RoboCop Catch Phrases "Thank you for your cooperation" and "Dead or alive, you're coming with me" are used in a more ironic context. He also threatens an arrested criminal with "You have five seconds to comply."
Murphy's assaults on John Biggs' drug laboratory and Vallon's warehouse are a reprise of the raid on Boddicker's cocaine factory. Likewise, his assault on the ED-209s at Omnicorp recalls his showdown with Dick Jones' ED-209 at OCP Headquarters.
Like before, Murphy's footsteps are loud. Actor Joel Kinnaman went as far as to model his version of RoboCop movements off of Peter Weller, with a little bit more fluidity.
Murphy takes out an ED-209 by making it fall down from one floor to another, much like the original was defeated by falling down stairs.
Sellars mockingly offers his arms out for handcuffs, knowing that he is protected thanks to Murphy's Restraining Bolt, just as Dick Jones did in the first movie.
Twofold: Dr. Norton disassembling Murphy and showing him what remains of his body is a nod to (1) RoboCop being dismantled by Cain's Nuke Gang and (2) the scene where Cain's preserved brain, spine, and eyes watch Dr. Faxx's harvesting procedure.
A criminal gang's snitches are within the Detroit police force.
Hob destroys Murphy's gun hand. This time around, Murphy had to shoot his own (robot) arm to break free from an ED-209's wreckage.
Tom Pope suggests crippled cops with muscular builds for the RoboCop project. Dr. Norton objects because of the subjects' mental and emotional instability, making Norton the complete antithesis of Dr. Faxx.
RoboCop now rides his own motorcycle and his black armor glows bright blue under fluorescent lights.
Murphy is overwhelmed by the police crime database uploaded into his brain, similar to the hundreds of politically-correct directives given to him by OCP to satisfy the focus groups.
Once again, Lewis uses an armoured troop transport to slow down and harm a larger robot, in this case, using a Oshkosh Sandcat to ram into an ED-209. In the original, Anne Lewis used an APC to pin RoboCain against the wall.
Pope's proposed design for RoboCop, being able to transform into a "Safety Mode" with police lights, is similar to the design of one of the failed RoboCop 2 prototypes.
Murphy being able to handle various weapons rather than a single sidearm.
OmniCorp's robot army in other countries is very similar to the Rehab project that will pave the way for Delta City, prompting rebels to fight back much like the Iranians.
Murphy overpowering the "Red Asset" protocol is similar to how the original forcefully deleted Directive 4 from his mind to avenge Lewis.
No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-Universe example. When OmniCorp learns the Detroit Chief of Police was working with crime boss Vallon thanks to RoboCop, they at first fear a backlash from the public over the scandal. However, CEO Sellars uses the news to their advantage with Pat Novak's help by praising RoboCop stopping corruption in the police which they use as proof that robots are superior to corruptible human law enforcement.
Murphy's emotions have been so repressed he ignores his family and all the VIPs at his press conference because he's too busy scanning everyone for potential threats. Then he leaps into the crowd and tasers a man wanted for murder. The fact that a wanted killer was undetected in a crowd containing top law enforcement officials is again used to showcase RoboCop's superior abilities.
Even the Iranian suicide bombers wait till they're on television before attacking. Likewise the attack is also given a positive spin on Novak's show, emphasising the US troops who didn't die though the use of robots, as opposed to the Iranians who did, or whether the robot occupation is achieving anything.
Not Using the Z Word/Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Murphy is only referred to as "RoboCop" a couple of times in the movie; once by Novak as a propaganda catchphrase, and once by Lewis as part of a joke ("Good Cop, Robo Cop"). The rest of the time he's referred to simply as Murphy, because in this version his identity is still Alex Murphy.
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Dr. Norton. Besides some lab assistants he seems to be the only person in charge of the science and tech to build Robocop, which means he has to be a genius-level expert in fields like robotics, engineering, brain surgery, neurology, biochemistry, psychology, etc.
Post-Cyberpunk: In contrast to the original, this version gives OmniCorp and the government some redeeming features, society is pretty much the same but with better technology, and the good aspects of robotics are emphasized rather than the bad.
Restraining Bolt: Just like in the original, RoboCop is hit with one. The red bracelets prevent him from attacking anyone wearing one. When Raymond Sellars makes the mistake of pointing a gun at his wife and son, however, Alex overpowers the command and shoots him.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The OmniCorp guards have this attitude in plenty near the ending after seeing one of their own being tazed by Robocop.
Sequel Hook: OmniCorp turns out to be part of OCP, which plans to review its droid program.
Shout-Out: The 1987 RoboCop's design has encumbered speed due to his heavy armor, but the 2014 RoboCop implements superhuman speed, jumping and reflexes akin to the obscure Japanese police-cyborg 8th Man. The new Alex Murphy is also a detective rather than a police officer, much like Detective Yokoda before he became 8-Man.
RoboCop's NI-408 sidearm resembles the modified Lawgiver Mark II more than the 1987 Auto-9.
The ED-209s making animal noises not only reminds one of the original ED-209s, but calls to mind the Gekkos from Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Also, Murphy jumps onto a ED-209 to disable it at close range, like Raiden does with some of his aerial attacks. Mind you, he's not as successful as Raiden is.
The noises that Murphy's combat software and non-combat software makes when it's analyzing and running scenarios and all of that fun stuff, is the same sound effects used for the Terminators in Terminator Salvation.
Show Within a Show: Pat Novak's The Novak Element, a satire of right-wing talking head programmes.
Suicide Attack: A group of suicide bombers go after OmniCorp's drones in the opening, managing to take out an ED-209 and one of the humanoid EM-208 drones.
Too Dumb to Live: There's the son of the suicide bomber at the beginning, who rushes at a 12 foot tall military mech with a knife. Those things are hard to destroy with explosives and high caliber ammo, a knife isn't going to do anything. On the other hand, the bombers' objective was solely to die on international television, so if that was the son's goal as well, it did everything he needed it to.
During the climax, Sellars has disabled Murphy with the Red Asset bracelet. Clara and David are terrified and might actually believe Sellars' story about Murphy going psychotic. He's won. Then, he just has to borrow a gun, threaten to shoot Murphy in the head, and threaten to shoot Murphy's wife and son, too. That's all the motivation Murphy needs to overcome his programming and kill Sellars.
Weapon Wields You: When paired off against an ED-208 in the simulator, the cyborg protagonist Murphy turns out to be several seconds slower as his reflexes are affected by human decision-making processes. Under pressure from his boss to get results, Dr Norton writes Murphy's software so that it takes over in combat situations, while signals are sent into Murphy's brain giving him the illusion of controlling events.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once the US Senate repeals the Dreyfus Act, OmniCorp prepares to eliminate Murphy by making it look like he died from his injuries, especially since Murphy has proven he can override his priorities at will. However, Dr. Norton warns Murphy before this can happen.