José Padhila Tells Me What His Robocop Film Is About

I’ve just got off the phone with  José Padhila, the director of the Elite Squad films and a man currently up to his ruffs in preparations for a remake of Robocop.

Later in December I’ll be sharing what José told me about the Elite Squads, including a great little lesson on the particular way that he staged and shot their action scenes. It was a very interesting conversation, and worth looking forward to.

But we did also talk about Robocop, for a minute. A very intriguing minute…

Padhila and I had been discussing the subject of police corruption and its portrayal in the Elite Squad films, when I asked how much of a presence these themes would have in Robocop.

To hear Padhila tell it, the answer is “not much.” He reiterated comments that he’s already made elsewhere, that he considers the story to be about:

a man being turned into a product by a corporation.

Which the original certainly was… at the same time as at least touching on police corruption.

Padhila seems to see the plight of Robocop as the way into an ethical discussion. He told me that the story’s set-up “creates a host of ethical issues. There are lots of questions that have not been answered.”

But it’s not just abstract. Padhila went on to root his concept in something very real for me:

Wars in the future are going to be fought with drones. We won’t send a plane with a pilot in, it will be drone. It’s getting that way now and ten years from now that’s how wars are going to be fought.

But what if a drone goes wrong – who is to blame then? Do you blame the drone?

And that problem asks if you can you consider a robot guilty of a crime. Or is it the corporation that made the robot that is guilty?

There’s definitely a rich seam to be mined there.

Perhaps the best clue to Padhila’s specific intent for the film’s story was locked in his final comment on the matter:

How do you fight back against drones when you don’t have drones?

Padhila tells me that he’s “in soft prep” for the film and “about to get on a plane and going to Los Angeles to start talking about casting.”

As well as actors, he’s also got crew in mind, with “preferences” for a director of photography and production designer that he can’t yet name as he’s yet to speak to them.

There’s still some way to go, but I think things are looking up for the return of Robocop.

Elite Squad 2 is being released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on December 26th. Gives you enough time to check out the earlier installment first.

a “man being turned into a product by a corporation. That creates a host of ethical issues, lots of questions that have not been answered.

“Wars in the future are going to be fought with drones. We won’t send a plane with a pilot in, it will be drone. It’s getting that way now and ten years from now that’s how wars are going to be fought.”

What if a drone goes wrong – who is to blame then? Do you blame the drone?

So that asks if you can you consider a robot guilty of a crime. Or is it the corporation that made the robot guilty?

“And how do you fight back against drones when you don’t have drones?”