RoboCop 2 (1990)
Directed by: Irvin Kershner
Written by: Edward Neumeier, Frank Miller, Michael Miner, Walon Green
Starring: Belinda Bauer, Dan O'Herlihy, Felton Perry, Nancy Allen, Peter Weller, Tom Noonan
Following on from the first film, RoboCop 2 sees cyborg Murphy reunited with Lewis as they attempt to keep the streets of Detroit clean. As talked about in the first film, the rest of the police force have decided to take strike action over pay as Omni Consumer Products look to invest in further technology rather than pay its officers. With the disastrous rollout of the first film’s ED-209 weaponised officer, OCP look towards developing a newer model of RoboCop named RoboCop 2 which will be easier to control than Murphy who seems to be too attached to the morals and memories of his former life. The problem is, RoboCop 2 needs a mind that will be willing to accept its robot body and so Dr Juliette Faxx begins to screen potential candidates for Murphy’s successor with prisoners and criminals at the top of her list.
Sci-Fi sequel ROBOCOP 2 strays more towards action in its direct follow-on story which sees two storylines running alongside one another – one involving the creation of RoboCop 2 and one about the war on drugs.
In this particular movie, the villain of the piece of a goatee-sporting, ring-nosed hippy junkie named Cain who manufactures a drug called Nuke which has almost every neer-do-well in the city addicted. In his attempt to bring down Cain’s enterprise, Murphy finds himself butchered for parts which results in him being rebuilt and recoded by OCP to take a less violent approach to law and order whilst work advances on RoboCop 2. The brainchild of Faxx, RoboCop 2 will be an amalgamation of RoboCop 1 and the failed ED-209; a machine that will be more robot than Murphy – the body of a machine and the mind of a human but one that is easier to manipulate and control compared to Murphy.
ROBOCOP 2 tries hard to follow in the fine footsteps of Paul Verhoeven’s first film and in many ways, it captures the aesthetic greatly. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as it gets as the visuals and story descend into a cheesefest that is so painful to watch, I felt the urge to fast-forward the film. Whilst you could say the first film had the hallmarks and ingredients for a goofy film, it managed to tightrope walk through it to become quite a brutal, gritty and effective piece of cinema. The sequel, however, simply dives on into the melting pot of cheese fondue. One of the main issues is the villain. Cain is meant to be this self-proclaimed messiah and whilst he does give off that energy, he’s simply not convincing enough to be this master that all his disciples fear. His appearance too lacks the intimidation of that of Boddicker in the first movie and thus comes across as a bit of a hippy with a crisis. The second problem is that of RoboCop 2 machine. It’s big and hulking, everything which Murphy’s RoboCop is not, which is fine, but the machine itself has a cringeworthy digital display in which the face of the machine’s brain is displayed upon. The resulting effort is some really awful visuals which are painful to watch and its this that really dates the movie.
When focusing on the rest of the film, there seems to be a few plot points that are never really chased up or expanded upon. Examples include Murphy stalking his wife, who he must convince means nothing to him, and the mass impact of the Nuke drug. A segment is also dedicated to RoboCop being reprogrammed in such a way that no computer can crack but Murphy easily fixes that by electrocuting himself. These elements feel like they were thrown in to just beef up a particular part of the film or at least give a slight motive but don’t feel warranted enough to be included.
Whilst ROBOCOP 2 isn’t a complete disaster, it is rather forgettable. The returning performances from Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Felton Perry and Dan O’Herlihy are worth their salt but unfortunately their performances are largely sidelined in favour of the Nuke kingpin, his kid and bird sidekicks and the RoboCop 2 machine. What it does have going for it though is its inclusion of practical FX with some brilliant scenes of Murphy’s RoboCop in shock at his mutilated body as well as the reappearance of the stop-motion ED-2019.
With a motorcycle and truck chase and some bot on bot action (no, not like that), action fans will no doubt find enjoyment here but the weaker plot and injection of awkward humour charters the movie into corny territory.