It’s already becoming a tired joke on film blogs: “Lose the arm!”, especially now that the movie has apparently been given the IMAX seal of approval. Joel Kinnaman gets to keep his right arm in the new RoboCop, and people are a bit upset about it. But that’s because they don’t know what the movie is up to.
A straight RoboCop remake would never work; in the 1980s, we were worried about the crack epidemic and turning to technology for a solution. But it’s 2013; the crime rate has been dropping for years. And we’re more worried about terrorists… or, realistically, the ways we try to control terrorists backfiring on us.
And the new RoboCop seems designed to tap into that. Essentially, the RoboCop remake is very bit as dark as the original movie, arguably darker, in fact. Remember the opening of the movie, where ED-209 malfunctions and kills an executive as part of a satire on private and public inefficiency? Yeah, in the remake, ED-209 is on the ground and killing kids in Iran.
OmniCorp doesn’t care that much; they mostly want to drive up profits, and since they’ve put their law enforcement droids everywhere else, that means an ED-209 on every American street, killing when it feels like it. Hence why, as the trailer makes a little too clear, Alex Murphy is set up to become RoboCop. He’s not the future of law enforcement: He’s the future of public relations.
Hence the arm; they keep it so he can offer a nice, warm, firm human handshake. Which is actually, when you think about it, a bit disturbing. The movie’s political content could be a clever theme in the script, or it could be an unsubtle bomb dropped on the audience at every turn. But one thing it thankfully won’t be is the movie we know all over again.