Paul Verhoeven's Robocop is one of those rare, wholly singular films that paradoxically exists both ahead of its time and as a total product of its time. It's a favorite for an entire generation of film fans and for that reason alone it's worrisome that MGM wants to remake the film. I happen to be of that generation and, until very recently, I shared those worries. But when I sat down to chat with remake writer-director José Padilha at Fantastic Fest (where his hugely successful cop thriller Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within is playing), all those worries evaporated.
José Padilha is a total geek. As you'll read in the other half of our interview, the man can instantly switch from talking about Marxist films in his native Brazil to what makes Robocop so interesting. And when I brought up his remake of Verhoeven's classic, he perked up and took on a positively giddy delight. Let's just say it's rare that I get to add the descriptor "[Laughs manically]" into an interview.
Movies.com: Speaking of what's coming next, I am a huge, huge fan of Robocop.
Padilha: So am I.
Movies.com: The first shirt that I pulled out of my closet today had an OCP logo on it, then I remembered I was doing this interview and thought it would be too cheesy.
Padilha: [Laughs] Good to know. I'll consider you an OCP spy. I'm on Robocop's side.
Movies.com: Well, I'm sure that your huge success with both Elite Squads opened lots of doors and windows in Hollywood, so what is it about Robocop that made you climb on board?
Padilha: Listen, Robocop-- aside from the fact that Robocop is a great film, sort of a revolutionary film at that time with acidic criticism of the media with those over-the-top ads. Aside from that, Robocop is a great concept. It's a brilliant concept. It's not a superhero even though he has super powers. It's the deconstruction of a man by technology for a purpose. That is pretty much going to happen. Technology is going to take us there. We'll soon have genetic manipulation. We'll soon have software and hardware implants. We're understanding the brain better and better. We're getting to the point where we're going to have robots doing a lot of things for us. We're going there, and that concept of Robocop and all these issues of cybernetics moving forward...putting that in the context of law enforcement is genius. Because then it gives you the chance to discuss the social impacts of those things. So that alone interests me like crazy.
So if someone came to me and said, even if there was no Robocop, do I want to make a movie about that, I'd say yes instantly. I have a take on how to do it and I presented it to MGM and they like it and here we are, making a movie that makes sense to me. I love it in a very personal way.
Movies.com: It's one of those movies that had a huge impact on a whole generation of people like me becoming the film geeks we are --
Padilha: It's such a great film!
Movies.com: I am so happy to hear your enthusiasm and know it's in good hands.
Padilha: I will do my best, man.
Movies.com: I do have one simple question because I'm dying to know. Will ED-209 be making an appearance in the film?
Padilha: Listen, I don't want to say too much about any of this, but I'll tell you one thing: I like the ED-209. [Laughs] That scene when the ED-209 shoots down the lawyer is... [Laughs maniacally]
Movies.com: That scene has such juicy squibs. Paul Verhoeven's ability to blow apart a body is unparalleled. Actually, are you going to attempt to match that level of R-rating?
Padilha: I'm just trying to write the best script I can and I don't care about the rating, we'll just see what's going to happen.