In 1987, Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop blasted onto cinema screens in a frenzy of violence and biting satire. A story of a futuristic Detroit policeman who is brutally murdered and reborn as a crime-fighting cyborg, it soon became established as a sci-fi classic.
Now in 2014, Brazilian director Jose Padilha brings us a new vision of the original film's dystopian world. Joel Kinnaman (star of the US version of TV series The Killing) dons the metallic armour and is joined by an all-star cast including Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson.
In this exclusive interview, Padilha talks to us about the world of RoboCop and what new developments he's brought to the table.
How does your remake of RoboCop differ from the original?
"It’s set in 2028 and robots are actively operating and patrolling overseas, so this has contemporary overtones, what with drone warfare and so on. In the film, America is a ‘robophobic’ nation. So the OmniCorp Corporation, headed up by Michael Keaton’s character, is actively looking to place a man inside a machine. Which is ultimately what happens to our central character Murphy, played by Joel Kinnaman."
Have you focused more on Murphy’s humanity in this version?
"There’s a line in the film said by Keaton’s character which is, 'a product with a conscience.' The challenges Murphy faces when he becomes RoboCop, the fact that he is no longer able to make love to his wife, for instance – that’s what the film is about. And we found the right actor in Joel Kinnaman to bring those themes alive."
You helmed the successful Brazilian Elite Squad series. What was it like making the transition to RoboCop?
"In Brazil I write my own scripts and finance the movies myself. When it comes to this movie, you’re dealing with a big studio so there is a degree more responsibility. Not to mention that I’m dealing with big movie stars like Gary Oldman. However, there are a set of guiding principles that guide the making of all movies, regardless of budget or size. The moment you sacrifice integrity, that’s the moment you make a bad film."
One final question – what do you think is the future of law enforcement?
"Personally, I think it’s going to be all automated, like in the movie. But it’s always dangerous to try and predict the future!"
RoboCop is released on 7 February and is also showing in IMAX.