This is a tough one to write because lurking under the endless gunfire, brutal slaughter, and vehicular mayhem, is a sweet little story: A decent, hard-working man loves his wife and son; they love him back. (I really like that part.)
Brazilian director José Padilha demonstrates his special effects skills (to my unwilling eyes) with a heavily CGI-laden actioner that barely gives us time to breathe, although the plot is easy to follow. A multinational corporation can see unlimited profits in the sale of mechanical law enforcement robots, they just have to win the hearts and the minds of the American voters.
Emphasizing the universality of film making, we watch:
- * Joel Kinnaman ("The Killing") as our hero, reduced to a head and a pair of lungs by a car bomb (yeah, and you get to see open-brain surgery, too!). This is the kernel of the man who is destined to be the model of a humanized robotic law enforcement officer. This appealing actor is Swedish.
- * Gary Oldman ("The Dark Knight") is the brilliant doctor/scientist who has developed a way to connect organic matter with metallic matter and create a robot with a human sensibility. Oldman was born in England.
- * Michael Keaton ("The Other Guys") owns the multinational company that wants to break into the American market with his robotic officers. Keaton is from Pennsylvania.
- * Jennifer Ehle ("Contagion") is one of the principal officials in that multinational company. I always thought Ehle was from the U.K. because of her work in "Pride and Prejudice," but she was actually born in North Carolina.
- * Michael K. Williams ("Boardwalk Empire") is our hero's sidekick, a loyal cop who takes being a partner very, very seriously. This actor was born in Flatbush.
- * Abbie Cornish ("Somersault") is our hero's wife, who signs the permission slip to attach her husband's remains to a machine in an attempt to salvage some part of him. Cornish is Australian.
- * Samuel L. Jackson ("Django Unchained") has a tongue-in-cheek blast as television personality Pat Novak. This All-American actor was born in the All-American capital, Washington, D.C.
Along with grisly blow-by-blow and bullet-by-bullet battles between our good guys and their evil foes, we have to watch the same car bomb explode three or four times, see vehicles crash through plate-glass windows, and cringe from a sound track that shakes the theater.
This is PG-13, so expect cold-blooded murders and heartless crooks, but no sweaty bodies or profanity...with the obvious exception of our favorite potty mouth, Mr. Jackson, who is heavily bleeped in his final speech...smile...