Tagline: He’s back to protect the innocent.
Director: Irvin Kershner
Writers: Edward Neumeier (characters), Michael Miner (characters), Frank Miller (story & screenplay), Walon Green (screenplay)
Starring: Peter Weller, Tom Noonan, Nancy Allen, Belinda Bauer, Dan O’Herlihy, Galyn Görg, Gabriel Damon, Felton Perry, Willard E. Pugh, Angie Bolling, Jeff McCarthy, John Doolittle, Robert DoQui
18 | 1hr 57min | Action/Sci-fi
Back in 1987, the BBFC had quite a movie on their hands.
Robocop was an ultra-violent affair of dripping flesh, hardcore drug abuse and attempted rape, which although extravagantly overblown was not as far from reality as its embellishments would have you believe. Most disconcerting was a scene in which the movie’s protagonist was systematically mutilated by a series of highly graphic shotgun blasts and the director’s overt ‘concentration on pain’. With the castration of the slasher genre still fresh in the memory, it seemed only inevitable that the movie would fail to avoid damnation.
It is credit to director Paul Verhoeven that Robocop was passed uncut, his deft, tongue-in-cheek style turning the excessive gore comic. But most of all it was his ability to clearly delineate the heroes and villains, offsetting the violence with a morality tale that overcomes the often relentless nihilism of a society without conscience.
Robocop 2 stays loyal to the original in many ways, but misses in its failure to maintain that balance. The movie is violent and satirical but lacks the charm and emotional moral core of its predecessor. Every facet of the movie is extreme in its own right, but fails to simmer into a suitable concoction: the wryness lacks subtlety, the violence is needless, and the social commentary often borders on the condescending.
As a slice of action absurdity, it is also a great deal of fun. In a society of widespread terrorism, killer security systems and 9-year-old drug lords, a Dystopian Detroit is in debt to Omni Consumer Products after senselessly spending millions on a series of malfunctioning ED-209 defence models. The public sector bled dry, the police are on widespread strike as the entire community turns to mindless crime, fuelled by their addiction to Nuke – a cheap, designer drug mass-produced by New Cult leader Kane (Tom Noonan).
Meanwhile, Robocop (Peter Weller) has begun stalking his wife Ellen, which doesn’t sit well with OCP once she files a lawsuit claiming the unlawful enslavement of her still-human husband. Probably realising that bedtime with a cybernetic organism would be just a little awkward, Robo plays up to the corporation’s rebuttal of his humanity, sparing his teenage son a lifetime of psychological hardship.
After ‘The Future of Law Enforcement’ is stripped to pieces by the sadistic New Cult, OCP refuse to pick up the multi-million dollar tab, transforming him into a lumbering buffoon who teaches trite morality lessons to criminals like Big Bird high on Valerian tea. With Robo off in la-la land, OCP’s search for the city’s second Robocop continues, and after a spate of half-dead police fail to live up to their predecessor, ruthless psychologist Dr Juliette Faxx (Bauer) turns to recruiting criminal subjects, eventually opting for deranged psychopath Kane.
With nowhere else to turn, the Mayor of Detroit cuts a furtive deal with 9-year-old New Cult leader Hob (Damon), allowing him to flood the streets with Nuke in return for clearing the city’s debts, but OCP are intent on the city’s privatisation, sending Kane’s Nuke-addicted super machine on a path of wanton destruction. Unfortunately for them, Robocop has managed to reverse the same highly-sophisticated reprogramming that baffled scientists by electrocuting himself with a 10,000 volt generator.
With that kind of technical savvy, there can only be one winner.
After some mechanical flirting with main squeeze Angie (Görg) a Nuke-fuelled, mechanical Kane suddenly turns psychotic, gripping her head with his giant claw and snapping her spine like a toothpick. Ouch!
Most Absurd Moment
Stumbling upon a coach-led, little league crime spree, a newly reprogrammed Robocop is dissed by a group of miniature ballers, leading the once ruthless super-machine to deliver a wholesome morality speech of pussy-ass proportions.
Best Dystopian Commercial
They say 20 seconds in the California sun is too much these days. Not to worry! All you need is a pint of Sunblock 5000 and you’re good for at least a couple of hours. Be warned, however: frequent use WILL cause skin cancer.
Most Absurd Dialogue
After turning off a fire hydrant, a discombobulated Robo lectures a group of kids on the wrongs of water wastage.
Robocop: ‘Waste makes haste, for time is fleeting. A rolling stone is worth two in the bush.’
Kid: ‘Go fuck a refrigerator, pecker neck!’
My thoughts exactly!
As a legitimate sequel Robocop 2 isn’t up to much, but as an exercise in inane silliness it packs a Nuke-style punch. The plot is basically a tepid retread of the original, with no real scope for our protagonist to develop, and although it may lack the recipe of Verhoeven’s violent, comic book masterpiece, some of the standalone ingredients are a pungent delight.
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