Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop was a singular work of pop art thanks to its sharply defined future, incisive satire of 1980s commercialism, and the almost comically patriotic idea of a savior being manufactured out of a deteriorating American industrial center. José Padilha’s new update may ultimately be unsuccessful as a remake of that 1987 classic, but it’s far from a failure. By taking a thoughtful look at our ongoing relationship with technology, the new film offers a sophisticated character study that questions the value of peacekeepers whose humanity is, both in real life and on film, becoming obsolete. If it were presented on its own, without the shadow of the original looming over every creative decision, many would be heralding it as a superlative genre entry in its own right.

Living in Detroit circa 2028, Joel Kinnaman (TV’s The Killing) stars as Alex Murphy, a quick-tempered cop who lands in the crosshairs of an arms dealer named Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow) when he proves incorruptible and unrelenting. After falling victim to a car bomb, Murphy is transformed into a cyborg named RoboCop at the behest of Omnicorp CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), who wants to literally put a human face on the peacekeeping drones his corporation builds. But when Murphy’s lingering humanity begins to undermine his programming, he finds himself embroiled in a battle to retain his identity while his corporate overlords use him as a pawn to manipulate public opinion.