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This image released by Columbia Pictures shows Joel Kinnaman in a scene from ‘RoboCop.’ (AP)
‘RoboCop’ remake pats down original Well Go USA acquires ‘Kid Cannabis’

The original 1987 “RoboCop,” Dutch director Paul Verhoeven’s first Hollywood film, isn’t so much a movie to revere as a bit of brutalism to behold. It had a grim comic vibe, satirizing the savagery of both corporate bloodthirstiness and justice-seeking rampages. Peter Weller’s RoboCop was a techno-Frankenstein created to tame Detroit’s rampant crime: Dirty Harry for dystopia. Remaking “RoboCop” is like trying to recreate a nightmare. That’s one reason why plans to remake the film were meant with mostly dubious derision: Hollywood, particularly nowadays, isn’t in the business of nihilism. Post-apocalyptic films may be all the rage, but a movie about a cop’s dead body shoved into a robot is a tad darker than Jennifer Lawrence running through the woods.

Directed by Jose Padilha (the Brazilian filmmaker who made the excellent documentary “Bus 174” before shifting into action with “Elite Squad”), this “RoboCop” has updated the dystopia with some clever ideas and better acting, while at the same time sanitizing any satire with video-game polish and sequel baiting. The smartest addition comes early, shifting the story to Tehran, where the global company OmniCorp has drones stopping and frisking in the streets. We’re introduced to this by talk show host Pat Novak (Sam Jackson), who appears throughout the film, brazenly promoting Pentagon propaganda, trying to convince what he calls a bizarrely “robot-phobic” American public that OmniCorp drones can make the US safer, too.

It’s a damning starting point that already positions America as the propagator of emotion-less killing machine. When the story shifts to Detroit, it gives the whole film the frame of: Would we treat ourselves how we treat those abroad? Opening the US market to its drones is judged imperative by OmniCorp. CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) is flanked by executive Liz Kline (Jennifer Ehle) and marketing wizard (Jay Baruchel, brilliantly smarmy). To turn the political tide, they decide they need (literally) a more human face.

Prototype
For their RoboCop prototype, they find Detroit police detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), who has been badly maimed by a car bomb meant to derail his pursuit of a drug kingpin. Gary Oldman (always good, less frequently tested) plays the scientist who preserves little more than Murphy’s brain in his new steel body, controlling his emotions and memory with lowered levels of dopamine. From here, the film (scripted by Joshua Zetumer, from the original by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner) generally follows the original’s plot, letting Murphy clean up Detroit before his personality begins to break through and his attentions turn to his maker. Any thought-provoking satires slide away in a torrent of bullets, which fly in the way they only can in video games or (questionably) PG-13 rated movies.

Kinnaman (“The Killing”) is a Swedish actor with an urban American swagger. Whereas Weller had to do most of his acting through his chin (obscured by the RoboCop suit), Kinnaman is a considerably stronger force, raging at his dehumanization. The fine Australian actress Abbie Cornish lends the otherwise metallic film a few moments of fleshy warmth. What leaves an impression in “RoboCop”? It’s Keaton’s trim and affable CEO. He and his cohorts make for one of the most accurate portraits of corporate villainy, not because they’re diabolical, but because they don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. Keaton, a too seldom seen motor-mouth energy, plays Sellars as an executive simply removing obstacles (ethics, scientific prudence, public safety) to accomplish what the corporation demands. The film’s best moment is Baruchel cowing and explaining he’s “just in marketing.” But PR is really the primary driver of “RoboCop,” with every action managed, refracted and spun. Will it seem at all prophetic years from now when Amazon.com drones are delivering tooth paste through the air? (AP)

Also:
LOS ANGELES:
Well Go USA has acquired all US rights to John Stockwell’s drug drama “Kid Cannabis” and plans to release the film in theaters and on VOD in the second quarter of this year, TheWrap has learned. An individual familiar with the project tells TheWrap that Well Go USA has its eye on an April 18 release date to take advantage of the counterculture holiday 4/20 — the day when people around the world celebrate (and consume) marijuana. “Kid Cannabis” features young stars Jonathan Daniel Brown (“Project X”), Kenny Wormald (“Footloose”), as well as veteran actors Ron Perlman (“Sons of Anarchy”) and John C. McGinley (“Scrubs”). Based on Mark Binelli’s 2005 article in Rolling Stone, “Kid Cannabis” is the true story of Nate Norman (Brown), an Idaho teen dropout who builds a multimillion-dollar marijuana ring by trafficking drugs across the Canadian border. But his pursuit of the high life - complete with girls, guns, and vicious rival drug lords - gets this ex-pizza boy and his delinquent pals in over their heads.

“Kid Cannabis” was produced by Gordon Bijelonic Films and Wingman Productions in association with Imprint Entertainment. Gordon Bijelonic, Datari Turner, Michael Becker and Corey Large produced the movie, which was executive produced by Mia Chang, Bic Tran, Alan Pao, Cain McKnight, Steve Ware, Alison Lee, Mark Silverwood and Rozanne Silverwood. “We were drawn into this true story by the compelling characters and how their decisions have long term implications,” said Doris Pfardrescher, president of Well Go USA.  “John Stockwell has an incredible understanding of youth culture as seen in films like ‘Cheaters’ and ‘Blue Crush,’ and we look forward to working with him on this unique film.”

“Ever since I read the Rolling Stone article on Nate Norman I was fascinated by the story. I’m glad we were able to bring the article to life,” added Bijelonic. Should Well Go USA release “Kid Cannabis” on April 18, it would open against WB’s Johnny Depp sci-fi movie “Transcendence,” Sony’s faith-based movie “Heaven Is For Real” and Open Road’s comedy “A Haunted House 2,” among other indie movies. The deal was negotiated between ICM Partners on behalf of the producers and Pfardrescher on behalf of Well Go USA. ICM Partners represents Stockwell and Brown. Well Go USA recently acquired a pair of midnight movies that debuted at Sundance - Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel’s serial killer thriller “Killers” and the Nazi zombie sequel “Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead.” (Agencies)

By Jake Coyle


By: Jake Coyle

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