In the "RoboCop" Reboot, Samuel L. Jackson Is Basically Bill O'Reilly
Paul Verhoeven's sci-fi action movie RoboCop (1987) is a famous satire of the excess and greed of the Reagan era. José Padilha's 2014 reboot of RoboCop (in theaters on Wednesday) is also a critique of American society and power. The remake—starring Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Abbie Cornish, Michael Keaton, and Jay Baruchel—takes place in the year 2028, mostly in Detroit. The American military is occupying countries all over the world—with the help of completely autonomous killer robots called "drones." (Get it?) In this not-at-all-distant future, the United States has apparently invaded Iran in "Operation Freedom Tehran." OmniCorp, which designs and manufactures these military robots, wants to put this technology to use in law enforcement on American soil. Thus begins a debate over civil liberties and human emotion.
But the best thing about the new RoboCop is Samuel L. Jackson's turn as the smartly dressed, flag-pin-wearing host of a cable-TV news and commentary show. His perspective is jingoistic, pro-US-empire, and staunchly pro-RoboCop and tough on crime. ("Why is America so robophobic?" he asks during a broadcast; he later asks if the US Senate has become pro-crime.) He cuts the mic of guests he disagrees with and is prone to loud swearing on camera. As you might guess, many critics have already compared Jackson's character to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. For instance, the name of the fictional show is The Novak Element, which sounds a bit like The O'Reilly Factor.
O'Reilly and Fox News did not respond to a request for comment regarding RoboCop's possible nod to The O'Reilly Factor. Jackson points to a different conservative host as his inspiration (via Blastr):
I play a character by the name of Pat Novak, who's sort of a combination of Rush Limbaugh and Al Sharpton, if you can combine those two people. So I refer to him as Rush Sharpton...He has one of those shows that's an opinion show, and his opinion is that automated policing is a good idea, so he's a proponent of RoboCop.
You can check out Novak in action in the trailer below:
Front page image: Sony Pictures/YouTube