In this current day and age of movie reboots, you won’t find more hesitation towards one than MGM’s modernization of Robocop starring The Killing’s Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy. But the latest casting news has softened the news of reboot. THR reported that Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) will play Norton, the scientist who takes the mangled mess of Murphy, who is nearly killed in the line of duty, and creates a cyborg cop. It sounds like they are going to play up Norton’s role as someone who struggles to find a balance between creating a corporate machine and the idealistic vision he had in creating a blend of man and machine.
Oldman is one of those few actors who rarely disappoints, always playing within his part, never trying to be more than what’s asked, as seen in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy as Commissioner Gordon. He also carries a film with ease like in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. And we still can’t forget him in Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element.
As for Kinnaman, there is a big weight on his shoulders to give a performance that for at least two hours, make us forget about Peter Weller’s in the original Robocop trilogy. I recently saw Kinnaman in the indy relationship charmer, Lola Versus, and I’ve got to admit, it was hard seeing him cleaned up and playing the perfect-boyfriend-but-confused-fiancée but he’s the one thing I keep watching The Killing for each week.
Part of the challenge of a Robocop reboot is that the original film was so perfectly done. It was a hard R, the Detroit setting was perfect, and Weller reinvented his acting career, which was already nearly 15 years old when he did Robocop. Everything came together quite nicely, and even though the quality of the sequels are debatable, there’s not much that’s wrong with the first Robocop. Why reboot it? The film is already 25 years old (!) and any film that old, about the future, is seen as fair game in today’s Hollywood probably because it’s rental cycle has reached a low.
José Padilha is a lesser-known choice for director who began his career making documentaries. James Vanderbilt however, is a more interesting choice for screenwriter. He adapted Robert Graysmith’s book for Zodiac, and he’s one of the three writers credited (with Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves) for Amazing Spider-Man. He also adapted The Losers from Andy Diggle and Jock’s Vertigo comic. I’ll be interested in what Vanderbilt does to set this apart from the original.
Filming for Robocop is set to start in the fall, with a summer release in 2013.