The Robocop (2014) reboot seemed to skim across the collective conscious like a stone across water. Released in the January wasteland, many, like myself, didn't see it (it only managed to eek out a mere 3rd place on its opening weekend). But is it really that bad?

There's some welcome advancements to the 1987 original. The opening action sequence does a wonderful job establishing the world. Instead of cheesy television parodies, we have Samuel L. Jackson doing an all-too-real 24-hour cable news personality. There's a better setup of interpersonal relationships and character motivations (with an important exception, which I'll get to). The action, also with one notable exception, is superior (Equilibrium (2002), an otherwise lesser film, set the muzzle flashlight bar so high that is seems silly for another film to try). Gary Oldman, as the sympathetic doctor, and Michael Keaton, are superb. Even minor characters like Mattox (Jackie Earle Haley) and the marketing weasel, Tom Pope (Jay Baruchel) have some great moments.

It all exceeds expectations but still falls frustratingly short of being great. At one point, OmniCorp's scientists drug him to the point of "being a zombie". Unfortunately, the audience isn't able to tell the difference. There was never enough of the human charisma or humor displayed for us before to notice when it subsequently went missing. The relationship with his wife and son seemed more a contrivance than the bond strong enough to overcome $2.6 billion of OmniCorp investment. The surprisingly compelling first two-thirds are undone by a final act where all the screenwriter's strings are showing.

See if: you enjoy well-executed near-future action that presents lots of big questions but doesn't really solve them by movie's end.

Seen On: Netflix