The script was definitely the weakest element. It was quite a mess. However, that's what you get when you hire the scribe who wrote Quantum of Solace
(much like RoboCop
, the script for QoS
was the weakest part of that movie).
Then again, I think the director is somewhat responsible for the script being somewhat good, so while I think Jose Padilha is very competent, I do question some of his storytelling decisions. For example, he set out from the very beginning not to have any identifiable villain. I am not sure if that was such a good decision. The Pat Novak segments were kinda pointless and weighed the story down heavily. I get what Padilha was trying to do, but they slowed down the pacing to a grinding halt. While not a storytelling decision, I'm not sure why you would bring back the classic theme but also use it during the opening logo sequence and then use it quietly when a character that's not RoboCop is talking (and use it so quietly that you barely hear it).
I could go on and on - but I will say the film was very polished and sleek at least on an aesthetic and visual level (even though the decision to make RoboCop black seemed very dumb - especially when he looked perfect before they made him black). The actors were all really good, even if their parts were somewhat underwritten. I think the most frustrating thing for me as a moviegoer was the script, though. The film started off in a really interesting fashion. I thought the movie was going to be a metaphor for drones and how the war on terrorism has affected the country in a post 9/11 world - but that went nowhere and was never really touched upon or explored beyond the opening scene. Then, there was a brilliant scene with Gary Oldman's character and a musician who lost his hands and got them replaced with robotic ones - there's a line Oldman has about "Repressing your emotions" and the guy says, to paraphrase, "I need emotions to play". At that point, I thought the movie was going to be about our dependence on technology and how that conflicts with human emotions - which works perfectly with a more grounded RoboCop
movie exploring the ideology of what it means to be human - but even that storyline is sort of abandoned and not properly explored in favor of a very generic and ultimately useless sub-plot where Murphy tries to solve his own murder (and does so very quickly without much tension or intrigue).
So the movie was really frustrating because it felt like there was a really interesting film which was apparent at the surface, but never really became anything beyond that. Bottom-line, if they ever do a sequel, they need to hire a better writer. I also wouldn't be opposed if they brought on a different director - I liked Padihla, I liked some of his visual and aesthetic choices, he chooses good actors and gets decent performances out of them - but I wouldn't be upset if he was replaced. Then again, I don't really think a sequel is necessary, either. It's not like I'm crossing my fingers for one.