|Frank Miller. I don't know who that girl is.|
Whether Frank Miller or Walon Green is to blame (given what I've researched, I'm guessing it's mainly Green, although Miller's original script probably didn't help), the fact of the matter is that one of the biggest problems with RoboCop 2 is the script. The story is very, very scattered. The main plot deals with Robocop's attempts to stop the main villain, Cain, and his cult from getting all of Detroit hooked on his drug but you've also got subplots involving OCP attempting to buy the city in the same manner that they would a company in order to get the plans for Delta City underway, Robocop having to come to terms with the fact that he can no longer be a husband and father to his wife and son, OCP's attempt to soften Robocop by filling his head with all sorts of ridiculous directives, and a new member of the company trying to come up with a new, more advanced cyborg. While I do think that the subplot involving OCP trying to buy the city works well along with the main plot with Cain, any one of those others could have made for a good movie in and of itself. You could have had a whole movie dedicated to OCP's attempt to put Robocop on more of a leash in order to keep him from interfering with their plans and when that didn't pan out for them, have the next movie be about them trying to come up with a more powerful cyborg to replace and destroy him. Those would have been really good. Stuffing them in here along with everything else was a waste in my opinion. It's like what happened nearly two decades later in Spider-Man 3. They should have been satisfied with the plots they had about the Sandman, the new Green Goblin, or both of them and left Venom for another movie. The subplot in RoboCop 2 that I'm the most frustrated about, though, is the one involving Murphy's family. That could have made for an awesome, emotional movie with a lot of depth to it and yet, it's just brought up in a couple of scenes after the film's opening, resolved in a very unsatisfactory way, and never mentioned again. Such a missed opportunity. As you can tell, this film's story is the part of it that frustrates me the most. However, I will say that I do like how it does build on where everything was at the end of the first movie: the cops are on strike, criminals are taking advantage of that, OCP's urban pacification project with Robocop is still ongoing, the cyborg himself has become an accepted part of the city and its law enforcement, and OCP is getting closer to beginning construction on Delta City. If nothing else, at least the film's story does build on that of its predecessor.
After the first film was as successful as it was, it was natural that Orion wanted Paul Verhoeven to helm the sequel. However, when they immediately approached him with the idea, Verhoeven said that he wanted to wait until a really good script was written and he felt that coming out with a sequel so quickly would make it seem as if they were just cashing in on a product. Plus, he signed onto Total Recall during this time so Orion would have to wait until he was finished with that before he could begin work on RoboCop 2. But, the studio had no intention of waiting that long and wanted to cash in on the success of the first film while it was still hot. After it became clear that Verhoeven wasn't going to be involved, Orion went through several directors, including Tim Hunter, who directed River's Edge with Keanu Reeves, and a Norwegian director named Nils Gaup, whose 1987 film Pathfinder had been nominated for Best Foreign Film, before finally settling on Irvin Kershner. Kershner was an interesting choice to direct the movie. On the one hand, he definitely had some caliber behind him since he directed The Empire Strikes Back, which the majority of people, myself included, to this day feel is the best Star Wars film, and plenty of other respected movies before that like Eyes of Laura Mars and the well-received TV movie Raid on Entebbe; on the other hand, the only film he had directed since The Empire Strikes Back was Never Say Never Again, the lackluster un-official Bond film that proved to be Sean Connery's real swan song as 007, as well as an episode of Amazing Stories (although, a TV movie called Traveling Man that he did with John Lithgow around this time was well-received). The one quote from him about RoboCop 2 that I can find stated that with the film, he wanted a different style of shooting and wanted to take the character further than they did in the first film. I find that to be an odd statement because, as I'll get into, there are moments in this movie where it feels like Kershner is trying to copy some of what Verhoeven did in the first one, only it comes across as a bit forced in my opinion. In any case, RoboCop 2 proved to Kershner's last film. After directing an episode of SeaQuest 2032 (or SeaQuest DSV, whatever you want to call it) in 1993, he retired from filmmaking and spent the latter part of his life as a teacher until his death from lung cancer in November of 2010.
A major criticism that is often made towards the portrayal of Robocop himself in this film is that it disregards the ending of the first one, with him having accepted that he was and to some extent, still is, Alex Murphy. Many feel that he's regressed back to acting more like a machine than a man in this movie but, while I used to agree with that notion, upon closer viewing, I think that's not quite true. I think that Peter Weller added some nuances into his performance this time around that subtly suggest that Robocop is now more human than he was when he was first created in the original. Now, when he first appears in the movie to break up the robbery of a weapons store, he is talking in the robotic tone that he had when he first went on patrol in the original and the same goes for some of the stuff that's said in the scene after that when he breaks in on Cain's cult as they're developing the drug Nuke but if you pay closer attention, you will notice instances of more emotion than there was before. After taking care of some of the criminals at the weapon shop, Robocop finds some Nuke in the car that they were using and the way that he says, "Nuke," upon realizing what it is has a tone of, "I should've known," to it instead of the robotic, machine-tone he was using a few seconds earlier. I think that robotic tone is something that he uses when dealing with criminals in situations like the stand-off he was just in; otherwise, he talks in a voice that has less of a soulless, mechanical sound to it. In addition, when Robocop enters the building where the drug is being created, he finds a crying baby in a cradle and, before making his presence known to everyone, gently touches it with his hand to try to calm it. I don't know if OCP would have programmed him to do something like that. I think it just comes natural. Another example of his humanness in my opinion are when he's talking to that guy who takes the baby hostage and he's sort of patronizing when he threatens to shoot the baby, saying, "No. We can't have that." There's more to that than the straightforward, business approach that he took when he tackled his first few crimes in the original. And let's not forget how, after he manages to purge himself of all of the nonsensical directives OCP placed in his brain, he rallies the striking cops to put down their picket signs and go after Cain. I can't see something that is 100% machine doing that. Can you?
He does also visibly show instances of emotions like anger and pain in this movie. When he's interrogating Officer Duffy in the club to find out where Cain is, it's obvious that he's getting frustrated when Duffy refuses to talk, despite the pain that he's giving to him. He says, "Where is Cain?!" louder and louder, a clear sign that he's becoming angry, and he also starts bashing Duffy's face harder and harder and you know he's going to keep doing it until Duffy finally talks, which he does. When he's ambushed by Cain's gang after finding out where they are and is immobilized by Angie, Cain's right-hand woman, Robocop desperately tells Cain, "I will... kill... you." And there's no doubt that he's in pain when the gang dismantles him and that he continues to be in absolutely agony after his parts are dropped off at the precinct. Remember when I said that, after he becomes himself again, Robocop rallies the other cops to get back to work and go after Cain? Not only could that not have come from a machine but his motivation for doing so is clear when one officer asks, "What's bugging you, Murph?" The response? "Cain... is bugging me." Cain has kept him from doing his duty for too long and now it's time for some payback. I could go on and on but I think you get the point. There are definitely more human emotions in Robocop here than there were when he came to life in the first movie. And let's end this section on the last line of the movie, which comes after Lewis comments that they can't touch the Old Man of OCP despite what he's done. Robocop responds, "Patience, Lewis. We're only human." Enough said.
As for his identity as Alex Murphy, I think that, despite what happens in that scene between him and his wife at the beginning of the movie, Robocop still knows who he once was and feels that he still is Murphy. When he's being grilled about driving past his wife and son's new home, I think that Robocop realizes that they have a point when they tell him that there's no way he could be a husband to Mrs. Murphy or provide them with the love that they require. Remember that in the original film, he said he could feel them but he couldn't remember them, which means that, despite the fact that he knows who they are, who he is, and the flashes that he gets every now and then, he's unable to relate with them enough to where he could be a successful family man for them. I don't think he means it when he answers their grilling with, "I am a machine. Nothing more," but rather is just telling them what they want to hear and the same goes for what he says to his wife. He does indeed know her, he just says that he doesn't and that her husband is dead so she can let go and move on, as painful as this lie is to her. I think the way he looks out the window at her after she leaves is a sign that he didn't mean what he said to her but did it for her own good. And don't forget that later on when they're trying to upload those "politically correct" directives into him, Robocop not only resists in order to keep his sense of self but also initially answers Dr. Faxx's questions as to who he is with the response, "Alex Murphy." It's only after she manages to override his will and put those directives into him that he goes back to calling himself Robocop. Even though he's programmed to follow those directives, they drive him mad until he can't take it anymore and, after hearing that it might work, electrocutes himself in order to get rid them and regain who he was before. In fact, it succeeds in erasing all of his directives, including his three prime ones, meaning that he's now freer than ever before to be his own person, which is undoubtedly Murphy, albeit with a cybernetic body. So, in my opinion, even though he's not acting exactly the way he did at the end of the movie when he identified himself as Murphy to the Old Man, Robocop still knows who he is in this film; he's just not absolutely blatant about it all the time.
Going back to the issue of his family, I really, really wish that they had focused an entire movie around it rather than just tie up its loose ends in a very small section of this movie. It's great they got Angie Bolling back as Mrs. Murphy and I also like that, while Robocop is watching both her and their son from his cop car, we see more flashes of the nice life that he had with them, but it really deserved much more focus and a more satisfying resolution as well. Obviously, the ending of it would have to be the same as it is here, with Robocop realizing that there's no possible way for him to be a part of his wife and son's life anymore and Mrs. Murphy having to come to terms with that, but it would have been much better if it had been explored more, like maybe have his wife and kid get caught up in OCP's criminal activities and Robocop has to save them from a kidnapping or something similar, which would ultimately lead to a final farewell between them. It wouldn't have to be overly sappy or sentimental but it would have been nice to have Robocop tell her something along the lines of, "I do remember you and who I am, but things are different now. I can't be with you anymore." Heck, I think I may have come up with a really good way to integrate that into this story purely through an accident. When I first saw the movie, I didn't know the specifics about Alex Murphy's family since I hadn't seen the original yet. I knew he had a family and that he lost them when he was forced to become Robocop but that was all I knew. What happened was, during the scene when Robocop first encounters Hob, Cain's young but nasty protégé, I thought that the memories he started having about his son after Hob shoots him and temporarily scrambles his circuits was meant to convey that Hob was his son. Obviously, that wouldn't have worked since the kid who played Murphy's son in both this and the first film looks nothing like Gabriel Damon who played Hob, but that's what I thought it was trying to say and was why Robocop seemed rather fixated on him for a little bit after that first encounter. And, when I was thinking about the issue of his family, I hit upon the idea that it would have been interesting to have Murphy's son be this young, violent member of Cain's gang, that after his father was killed, he couldn't take it and joined up with them as a result. Plus, it would have been interesting for him to not realize that Robocop is his father when he first encounters him and then, over the course of the movie, gradually realize it and try to come to terms with it. I don't know if it would have still ended with the kid's death but it would have an interesting way to go. This is all just speculation and wishful thinking since they went the way that they did and there's nothing that can be done about it but I do still think that the whole thing with Murphy's family deserved to be treated with more respect rather than just being tossed aside the way it kind of was.
Like he did previously, Peter Weller uses his voice to make distinctions between when Robocop is simply being the crime-fighting machine that he's programmed to be and when his old persona makes its way to the forefront. Obviously, when he's talking in that deep, matter-of-fact, authoritative voice, it means that he's in the mode where he's simply out to stop crime. When his voice is a bit lower and softer, it means that Murphy's coming through. One of the most notable examples of this comes when he and Lewis are surveying an arcade where they spot a couple of Cain's henchmen entering it and when Lewis loses them, Robocop points her in the right direction. When Lewis comments that he has good eyes, Robocop comments, "Best that money can buy." Since this is not long after that bittersweet reunion between him and his wife, he's no doubt feeling melancholy about the fact that, while he may be alive, he can't be with her anymore due to what he is, which is why he comments on the fact that his good vision is just part of his cybernetic nature. The biggest example of Murphy's persona inside Robocop I think comes near the end of the film when he finds the aftermath of RoboCain's rampage of the warehouse where the mayor was meeting with Hob and he finds Hob mortally wounded in the back of the van. He talks very softly to Hob to try to calm him and when Hob asks him not to leave him when he attempts to go call an ambulance, Robocop calmly says, "I won't leave you." Bit of a difference between this and how he "comforted" that woman he saved from getting raped in the first movie, isn't there? And when Hob dies after telling Robocop that he knows what it's like to die and that it sucks, you know exactly what Robocop is alluding to when he very softly says, "Yes." I don't think he would have said that if Murphy's soul wasn't still prevalent within him.
There's another bit of development in Robocop's character here that I think a lot of people miss, which is that we very subtly see how he grows to being an accepted and valuable member of the Detroit police force. While Sergeant Reed has certainly grown to think of Robocop as one of his men since the first film, the other cops, at first, aren't so sure. He's not very welcome when he drives into the station at one point amongst a bunch of protesting cops, as they slap the hood of his car and, as he drives in, one cop yells, "We ain't forgetting who you are!" In other words, they still think of him as a product of OCP. That said, I like that, right after that moment, you see Robocop walking around the station and nobody, not other cops, civilians, or even criminals, gives him a second look, signifying that everybody is becoming accustomed to his presence, even if some of them still don't quite trust him. In any case, despite that initial mistrust, the other officers all change their tunes when Cain's gang brings his dismantled body parts back to the precinct. They're horrified at the condition that he's in and they're furious when it becomes clear that OCP isn't willing to pay the money needed to repair him. When Robocop is seemingly better, the other cops are quite happy that he's back and, like Lewis, begin referring to him as Murphy. And you have to like how, after Robocop fries himself to erase the nutty directives, all of the picketing cops stop what they're doing and help to get him back inside the station. It's after that when Robocop manages to get them all out of their funk, go back to work, and go after Cain. From that point on, he's no longer seen by the other officers as something that OCP created to take their jobs away from them but as a fellow officer and a very powerful one at that.
Since this was the first one I saw, I was surprised when I saw the first movie and learned that Robocop's armor was initially a silver-gray color. While that is a nice look, I much prefer the blue armor in this film. I just think Robocop looks a lot cooler and more high-tech with that color. The black parts of his body appear to be much shinier in this film as well, which adds to his very appealing look this time around. Not only do I think the suit looks better but it also helped Peter Weller in his performance. This suit was made entirely out of FiberGlass and since it was lighter, Weller was able to pull off quicker movements while wearing it. That's something that I immediately caught when I watched the film again. Weller's movements in this film are much more fluid and elegant than the already impressive physical performance he was able to put on in the original. He makes Robocop feel like an even more effective crime-fighting machine, able to target and take out threats without missing a single beat and quickly and efficiently survey crime scenes, most notably when he comes across the aftermath of RoboCain's attempted assassination of the mayor and the slaughter of those who betrayed him. Robocop was already a formidable and deadly enemy to crime in the first movie but here, with his quicker movements and capabilities, he feels even more improved and not something criminals would want to find themselves confronted with (but, for some reason, most of the criminals in Detroit are still stupid enough to think that they can take him on, even though they know full well who he is and what he's capable of).
Unfortunately, the other returning good guys from the original are relegated to having little to nothing to do. Nancy Allen's Anne Lewis is sorely underused in this film. Unlike the first film, there are little to no emotionally connecting scenes between her and Robocop, unless you count the section of the movie where she goes on patrol with him while he's got those nonsensical directives planted into his head and it doesn't take her long to realize that there's something not right about him but that's played more for comedy than anything else. Other moments, like when she's obviously concerned for Robocop when he's suffering after being dumped off at the precinct in little pieces and when she gets the other cops to help her with him after he electrocutes himself to get rid of those directives are fine and all but they're extremely brief. Mostly, the only connection the two of them have is when they go on duty together and, granted, they still make a good team, like during the opening action scene when she follows Robocop's orders to put away her firearm, giving him the opportunity to strategically shoot the guy who's holding a baby hostage, or when they raid the club where some of Cain's henchmen are hanging out and Lewis deals with the henchmen while Robocop tries to make Duffy talk. Even so, I miss the deeper interactions that the two had in the first film. I like that they're still obviously close partners and that Lewis respects Robocop enough to refer to him as Murphy but there could have been more. But, hey, at least Allen has some stuff to do here. Poor Robert DoQui has virtually nothing to do as Sergeant Reed except listen to a bunch of complaining people from behind his desk or ask what's going on when everyone is gathered down in the room where they keep Robocop after he's been dismantled by Cain's gang and OCP refuses to help fix him. The only profound thing he gets to say is to tell Holzgang that, when Robocop is being wheeled in to be put back together, "He's one of mine. I want him back on his feet." I like that line since it shows how, despite not being too sure about Robocop when he first saw him, Reed has now accepted him and sees him not only as a valuable member of his police force but a part of his force period. So, it's a great moment for Reed; I just wish he had more.
Before we move on to the main people of OCP featured in this film, one member who's actually very sympathetic is Linda Garcia (Patricia Charbonneau, who's not credited at all, for some reason), one of the technicians in charge of maintaining Robocop. Unlike the main female technician in the original, who wasn't really a character and kind of just did what she was told, despite her reservations about removing Murphy's other intact arm, Garcia clearly cares for Robocop's well-being. After he's been dismantled by Cain's gang, Garcia can tell that he's in complete agony, despite corporate lawyer Holzgang's assertions that the writhing of Robocop's torso and head at the moment is due to electrical currents; in other words, Garcia is one of the few members of OCP who knows that Robocop is a living creature and not just a machine or a product. Since she doesn't trust Holzgang or anybody else at OCP as far as she can throw them, she insists upon overseeing Robocop's repairs but Holzgang refuses to allow her to do so, going so far as to threaten to have her fired when she insults him. After Robocop is back on his feet, Garcia knows that something is wrong when she sees how weird he's acting and attempts to take him downstairs to scan his memory. Lewis, however, inadvertently spoils this when she takes Robocop on duty with her and it's only after the disastrous patrol they go on that Garcia gets to examine him and discover the myriad of silly directives that are clogging his brain. She and her assistant are unable to do anything to remove the directives with their equipment and they surmise that the only other option would be to give him a very large jolt, which might also kill him. Upon hearing this, though, Robocop decides to take the risk and manages to return to his normal self, so in some ways, Garcia is quite a hero in this story.
The people at OCP may not have been the most moral group of people in the first film, with Bob Morton doing everything that he could to get ahead in the company, including taking advantage of a man's (Murphy) death to do so, and Dick Jones being an out and out sociopath who will kill anybody who dares screw around with him, but they weren't exactly out and out evil either. In this film, though, they are a corrupt cooperation and nowhere is that more evident than in the character of the Old Man, again played by Dan O'Herlihy. In the original, he was hardly the kindest person on Earth, what with how he was more concerned with there being yet another setback with ED-209 rather than the fact that the damn thing just shot a man to pieces in the boardroom but, at the same time, his ultimate goal, to get rid of crime-riddled Old Detroit and put a safer, more respectable city in its place, seemed fairly noble and he was certainly shocked to learn that Dick Jones went as far as to have Bob Morton killed for overruling his ED-209 project with the creation of Robocop. Here, though, he is most definitely a villain. He's cold, cruel, and more than willing to do whatever it takes to get Delta City built, even if it means the deaths of hundreds of people. Since the urban pacification project with Robocop hasn't improved living conditions in Old Detroit as much as he hoped, the Old Man has decided to use an underhanded method of buying the entire city as he would a company. He's undermined the city's credit with the police strike, making it impossible for the mayor to pay OCP what the city owes them so that he can buy all of Detroit. He knows that a lot of innocent people are dying as a result of the police strike but, as long as he can create Delta City, it's no skin off his nose. He even goes as far as to keep Robocop offline when Cain's gang dismantle him in order to ensure that the city will fall into his hands quicker. He's so coolly confident that he basically tells the mayor, "Yeah, I've made it so you can't pay your debt and I know that people are dying but, Detroit will soon be mine and you can't do anything about it." When the mayor threatens to sue, the Old Man just smugly responds, "Give it your best shot." And to that end, when he becomes aware that a mysterious party has offered to give the mayor the money he needs, the Old Man steps over the line that Dick Jones did before him and actually sends the newly constructed RoboCain out to kill the mayor and said party!
And speaking of Delta City, as noble as it seemed before, we start to see here how it might not be such a nice gesture by the Old Man. When he unveils the model for Delta City, the mayor comes at him with the accusations that he's planning to bulldoze over people's homes to put this thing in, that it won't be like the neighborhoods that most people grew up in, and that many won't be able to afford to live in this place. The Old Man gives his typical cold retorts to those accusations, telling the mayor that the neighborhoods he's talking about seem to be breeding grounds for crime and that he shouldn't be nostalgic. One really stupid thing that I think the Old Man does, though, is allow Dr. Faxx to put a psychotic mind inside this deadly new cyborg they're putting together called Robocop 2. He's even told that this is an extremely dangerous course of action but the Old Man says, "Well, we're not planning to build a toy." At the end of the film when RoboCain goes berserk and kills a bunch of people in his battle with Robocop, the Old Man tells Johnson, "This could look bad for OCP." Well, whose fault is that, now? (Then again, you do find out that he did approve the use of ED-209, despite its constant glitches, so I guess the Old Man is just accustomed to going along with very risky ventures and worrying about their consequences when they happen.) Of course, though, he finds a way out of it, namely a way to solely blame Faxx for the cyborg going berserk. I don't know if you can tell but I'm not that much of a fan of the Old Man being turned into an out-and-out villain this time around. Dan O'Herlihy may have been the type of actor who could play villains extremely well (Halloween III is a great example of that) and he's still good here but I felt that the Old Man was more interesting when he was more ambiguous and seemed to be benevolent for the most part but had some coldness to him as well. Making him a full-blown villain feels lazy to me. I've read one critique, actually from another blog, that the Old Man's character wasn't changed at all from the first movie and the reason that he seems more villainous here is because we see more of him than we did before (truth be told, he was only in two scenes in the first film) and we're seeing him behind closed doors where he can drop the façade that he probably puts on when he's meeting with the board or when he's out in public. That does seem like a valid argument to me but, still, his personality here doesn't quite match what was shown of him before in my opinion.
Just as unscrupulous as, but also possibly more insane than, the Old Man is Dr. Juliette Faxx (Belinda Bauer), the psychiatrist who is hired by OCP to help come up with a new cyborg to eventually replace Robocop. The team's efforts to use the minds of other police officers fail due to the cops' inability to cope with being turned into cyborgs, so Faxx decides that it's best to go in another direction and try to find someone who would enjoy the idea of becoming a powerful machine. This leads to her deciding to go with psychotic criminals who are useless to society and as stupid and dangerous as that idea is, the Old Man decides to go with it since he and Faxx have been "discussing it privately," which has some rather unsavory implications when you see the scene where she appears in a bathrobe and sticks her feet in the heated pool that the Old Man is sitting in at the moment (ugh). As if this plan wasn't bad enough, Faxx decides to go with the mind of Cain, the psychotic, God-crazy leader of the drug cult that's been plaguing the city and keep him in line after turning him into a cyborg by feeding him his own drug, which he's addicted to. It's obvious that Faxx is quite unhinged. She's not only determined to put the brain of a psychotic into a cyborg (I still can't believe that anyone, let alone a psychiatrist, would be dumb enough to try something like that) but when Cain is in the hospital after having a devastating run-in with Robocop, she turns off his life support so she can use his brain and lies about it, saying that the guy died from his injuries and that he actually volunteered. Moreover, she's the one who suggests that the Old Man have her send RoboCain out to kill the mayor when it seems like he might get the money to save the city after all! Again, psychotic much? And the reason that she does all of this is simply so she can create a more advanced cyborg than Robocop, whom she feels is obsolete. If there's no way to get Delta City off the ground, there will be no use for RoboCain, who is meant to replace Robocop and get rid of the Nuke that's still prominent on the streets of Old Detroit, and Faxx will have lost her opportunity, which she can't allow. Speaking of Robocop, Faxx is also the one who uploads all of those nonsensical directives into him and manages to psychologically beat him down when he's resisting by telling him that his belief that he's Alex Murphy is a delusion and that if they strip away the cybernetics, he's not even a complete corpse. Even when RoboCain becomes uncontrollable and Robocop shows up to deal with him, Faxx maintains her position about her creation, telling Robocop that he is obsolete and later on, she's happy when it looks as if RoboCain will win in the fight the two cyborgs have with each other, despite all of the death and destruction that he's caused. No doubt about it, Dr. Faxx is a using, unscrupulous woman who will do whatever she can to make sure that her theories are verified but at the end of the movie, little does she know that the Old Man (whom she acted concerned for, which you know is bull) is looking into a way for her to pay for the havoc her creation caused and exonerate himself of his role in it.
The other people at OCP who do realize that Faxx is out of her mind are Johnson (Felton Perry) and Dr. Schenk (John Doolittle), the latter of whom was shot in the arm when one of the proposed Robocop 2's went berserk before killing itself. Schenk is especially critical of Faxx's ideas and methods, refusing to let her put a psychotic brain into the cyborg but, unfortunately, since she has the Old Man's consent, there's little he can do to stop her and has to go along with the plan. It's also clear that Schenk just plain doesn't like Faxx and makes no effort in hiding it, although he has to quickly back down since Faxx threatens to get him fired when he questions her. Johnson also isn't too found of Faxx, especially since she replaced him as head of the Robocop 2 project when his team's initial efforts, which cost $90 million, failed miserably. Like Schenk, he's stunned when he learns that Faxx is screening psychotics to be used as the brain-power for the new cyborg and while, like Schenk says, one of his motivations for taking it to the Old Man is to get her fired, it's also obvious that he's genuinely horrified and realizes how dangerous this is. But, also like Schenk, Faxx's connection with the Old Man means that there's little that he can do. His hatred for Faxx is furthered during the meeting when they're discussing ways to update Robocop's directives and she's accepting the ridiculous, overly PC suggestions that they're giving her. Johnson can't believe what he's hearing and jokingly suggests some other silly ones, the last of which is roasting marshmallows with some cub scouts... which Faxx also takes down and thanks him for. The look on Johnson's face right then says it all: "I hate you." But, while Johnson may still be one of the more moral members of OCP, as he was before, he's not above suggesting to the Old Man at the end of the film that they use Faxx as a scapegoat for how Robocop 2 went out of control, undoubtedly to get rid of her and get in good with the Old Man by helping him out of this PR crisis rather than due to the fact that, because of her, a bunch of people are dead.
Lawyers are hardly ever a sympathetic bunch, especially in movies, but Holzgang (Jeff McCarthy), OCP's corporate lawyer, is just a bastard. This guy is absolutely smug and contemptible, going along with every underhanded job that the Old Man hands him without the slightest hint of a conscience that's telling him that this might not be the best thing to do; in fact, he seems to relish being a complete asshole to the mayor and to the people of the police department, knowing that they can't touch him. While he does bring up a good point when he's talking to Robocop at the beginning of the movie and tells him that there's no way he could be a husband and father to his wife and son, he's still videotaping him and forcing him to say that Alex Murphy is dead just so Mrs. Murphy won't have a reason to sue OCP. He becomes more hateful as the movie goes on, smugly and slimily telling the mayor that it was easy to undermine the city's credit and that he'd better watch his threats towards the Old Man because anything else he says could be, "actionable." And when Robocop is dismantled by Cain's gang, Holzgang refuses to authorize him to be repaired since it would cost millions of dollars (again, they're just keeping him offline to ensure that Detroit will fall into OCP's hands even quicker) and he very coldly denies Garcia's beliefs that Robocop was in any kind of pain, saying that his spasms were simply a result of electrical interference. To that end, Holzgang tells the police that they're lucky he's even talking to them and later on when Robocop is being wheeled down to the lab where he's supposedly going to be repaired, Holzgang denies Garcia's assistance in this operation and tells her that she's close to getting fired when she insults him. And the reason I said Robocop is supposedly going to be repaired is because when Reed tells Holzgang that he wants Robocop back on his feet, the lawyer comments that they may repair him or they may just sell him for parts since he's "off-warranty." Also for the record, he supports Faxx's suggestions that they have the mayor killed when the possibility that he might get the money to bail the city out arises, saying that they can't use legal means to stop him. The last kick in the rear about Holzgang is that, like the Old Man and the rest of OCP, he's never punished for the horrible things he does and after this movie, he's never heard from again, so it's very unlikely that justice was ever served when it came to him.
Since I've mentioned the mayor some many times by now, I think it's time to give him his due. Mayor Kuzak (Willard E. Pugh) may not be a big hothead with the volatile, over the top outbursts that he has but he is genuinely concerned for the well-being and is outraged when he figures out that OCP undermined the city's credit and engineered the police strike so that they would eventually be able to buy the city itself. He especially hates them for the people who are losing their lives with no cops to protect them and very angrily tells the Old Man that he'll sue the "senile old bastard," becoming more enraged when the OCP chairman responds, "Give it your best shot." Later on, he puts on a charity event to try to raise the money needed to pay the city's debt but the thing is so pathetic that it doesn't go over very well. However, things begin to look up when Kuzak gets a call from someone who offers him the money and he later meets with them. While their offer is hardly on the up and up (actually, it's not up and up at all), Kuzak realizes he's in a major bind and will have to go along with the deal if he wants to save Detroit from falling into OCP's hand, even if the vision of the future that these people have in mind isn't much better. Unfortunately for Kuzak, his personal assistant, Poulos (Phil Rubenstein), decided that the city's future would be better if it belonged to OCP and alerted them to the appearance of this mysterious party, which prompted them to send out RoboCain to kill the mayor and everyone else. However, Kuzak managed to escape the deadly cyborg's wrath and make his way back to the city. He later denies any knowledge of what happened to the news, assuring them that it would be investigated. Obviously, that's not an honest statement but Kuzak still has the city's best interest in mind and doesn't want to spoil his determination to stop OCP by letting it be known that he almost made a deal with criminals, as noble a reason he had for doing so. He later confronts the Old Man during the latter's public unveiling of the plans for Delta City and tries to let the public know that his privatization of Detroit will not be something that they'll like or even be able to afford. He's even more horrified when he recognizes Robocop 2 as the mechanical monster that tried to kill, now realizing the lengths that OCP will go to in order to get their way. By the end of the movie, he assures the media that he will continue to fight OCP but, as we can later tell from the events of RoboCop 3, he ultimately failed to stop them from putting their plans into motion.
I think another major problem that I have with RoboCop 2 is that Cain, the drug-leader who is meant to be the other big bad of the film in addition to the Old Man is not a character that I find compelling or scary. Tom Noonan is a great character-actor and he was a good choice for Cain but, ultimately, I think the character is kind of a missed opportunity. He's the powerful leader of this cult that basically has Detroit in the palm of its hand by flooding the streets with their very addictive drug known as Nuke and even has some addicted cops who are subservient to them but, that said, Cain is in so little of this film that I don't feel the gravity of his presence. We see that he thinks of himself as a God and he feels that Nuke is the way to Paradise but that's basically it. The only major thing he does that shows what a dangerously disturbed psycho he is happens after he finds out that Officer Duffy, one of the policemen who's become addicted to Nuke, tells Robocop where Cain's hideout is. Cain has him butchered by some surgeons for his betrayal and doesn't think twice about allowing Hob, his very young protégé, to watch it, even forcing him to do so when he turned away. Okay, that's pretty sick and twisted. Also, we can't forget how he just shoots one of his drug lab workers when he finds her hiding in his limo after Robocop raids their lab, which is pretty cold and psychotic too. But, it's not enough for me. I need more focus on Cain in the story, to spend more time with him and his cult and see even more examples of how twisted he is before I can say that I find him to be a terrifying villain. It's another reason why I wish they hadn't crammed so many subplots into this film; when that happens, some of the plotlines that were supposed to be very profound suffer as a result. He does become much more of a force to be reckoned with when his brain is placed inside of Robocop 2, turning him into RoboCain, with how he uses his mission to kill the mayor as an opportunity to take revenge on the surviving members of his cult for betraying him, and I also think that the idea that Faxx uses his own drug, which he himself is addicted to, as a way of keeping him under control (although, ironically, it causes him to go berserk at the end of the movie) is interesting. But, even so, it still doesn't matter much to me because of the little interest I had in Cain as a character, which is a shame. It's another really good concept that could have worked well but ultimately got the shaft due to the film's overcrowded storyline.
|Can't shoot a kid, can you, fucker?|
While she's more than willing to follow Cain's orders, Angie (Galyn Gorg), the cult-leaders right-hand woman, is possibly the most moral member of the cult. While she's hopelessly hooked on Nuke and aids Cain in his criminal activities, including immobilizing Robocop so the rest of the gang can dismantle him, she's the one who's the most horrified when Cain has Officer Duffy butchered alive. She screams, "You said you were just gonna scare him!" Cain coldly replies, "Doesn't he look scared?" Despite that, though, she continues to be loyal to Cain, even going so far as wanting to get him out of the hospital after he's injured but Hob refuses to let her and uses her Nuke addiction to keep her in check and ensure her loyalty to him. Angie knows that if Cain recovers and gets out of the hospital, he'll kill both of them for this betrayal but Hob has her in the palm of his hand, unable to do anything except be subservient to him. While she does listen to Hob and helps him in his attempt to take control of Detroit with Nuke, she clearly hates the little monster for what he's done to her, at one point telling the mayor, "See? He's got it all figured out," in a very bitter voice. When RoboCain breaks up the meeting and comes across Angie after slaughtering nearly everyone in the warehouse, he seems to be willing to forgive her and coaxes her into trusting him... big mistake, because Cain grabs her face and breaks her neck with a nasty crunch, just as she predicted he would.
I haven't gone into detail about Officer Duffy (Stephen Lee) because there's not much to say about his character. He's just a typical rotten cop whose addiction to Nuke led him to be subservient to Cain and help him in wiping out the police force. He does seem to try to kick his addiction to Nuke but Hob, at one point, uses it to assure his loyalty and coerces him into buying another pack of it as a result. Of course, Robocop and Lewis bust up the club where Duffy is meeting with Hob at this time and Robocop very painfully makes Duffy spill his guts about where Cain's hideout is. For his betrayal, Duffy suffers the most gruesome death in the film. He then repeatedly kisses Cain's butt to try to get him to spare him and then tries to laugh his way out of it, as if this is just some scare tactics, but that's not the case at all and Duffy's agonizing screams as the surgeon slices his chest open are actually quite disturbing.
In my review of the original RoboCop, I talked about that film's notorious reputation in terms of its violent content and I went into detail about why it does warrant that reputation. What's bizarre about RoboCop 2, though, is that, even though it's not as overtly gory as the first one, for some reason it's always seemed much more mean-spirited to me. It's hard to put my finger on why I get that vibe from it but I'll try to explain. The film actually reminds me a lot of another sequel that was released the same year: Predator 2 (although, just for the record, I like that movie a lot more than this). Both are very violent sci-fi/action movies that take place in extremely corrupt urban environments, with lots of gunplay, a detailed look at how horrible each film's world is, and a lot of foul language spewed out by the characters. Another thing they have in common to me is that they're both sequels to films that were also quite violent but very gory as well and while both of these films are much drier than their predecessors in terms of bodily fluids spilled, they actually make me cringe and feel more dirty than the movies that spawned them. Again, the question is, why do I feel that way? After thinking about it, I hit upon the idea that RoboCop and Predator, despite their violent content, were also very fun movies. While Predator was enjoyable for being a perfect example of the fun action movies that came out in the 80's, albeit with a sci-fi twist, RoboCop had the very over the top violence which became darkly humorous in some instances in addition to its rich satirical elements. I'm not saying that RoboCop 2 completely abandons the original's satirical elements, because it doesn't, but without the extremely bloody squibs and over the top deaths that Paul Verhoeven put into the original, it doesn't have the same fun factor. In fact, if you remember back to my review of the original, I said that I disagreed with Verhoeven's feelings that the MPAA made the violence more unpleasant by cutting it down and taking out the more over the top gore elements. The director's cut of that film only has a minute's difference of material and in the theatrical cut, despite stuff like Kinney's death at the hands of ED-209 being pared down a little bit, I still find the movie to be very over the top and fun, with the darkly humorous moments that Verhoeven intended perfectly intact. RoboCop 2, on the other hand, feels much more in line with what Verhoeven was referring to when he talked about elliptical violence in regards to the original's theatrical version. When you've got people being shot down left and right and don't have the juicy squibs that were employed beforehand (you do see some blood when people get shot here, just not as much as you did before), it does indeed feel much more mean-spirited and nasty. And the really gory moments in the movie, like when Cain has Duffy butchered alive and when Cain's brain is removed to be placed inside of Robocop 2, aren't done in an over the top, fun way but rather in a very serious and horrific manner, as if you took Murphy's death scene in the first movie and multiplied it several times here.
Besides the elliptical violence, there are a couple of other elements that make RoboCop 2 feel more mean-spirited than the original. One is the fact that you see more of how Detroit is falling apart and becoming more and more crime-riddled. You definitely saw it in the first one, with the crimes that Robocop stopped on his first night on patrol as well as the activities of Clarence Boddicker's gang, but here, Detroit feels like an even more unpleasant place to live. You have people getting high off of Nuke, a moment at the beginning of the film where a guy who, at first, seems like a good Samaritan and is going to help this old woman whose cart full of cans tipped over takes the opportunity to steal her purse and run off with it, only for he himself to get robbed by these streetwalkers who brutalize him in the process, and a major feeling of urban decay with the graffiti on the walls and the neon lighting of some sections. The criminals themselves feel much more brutal in this film, with how that one gun-store robber at the beginning coldly shoots the owner after he tells him where the bullets are and how those criminals take pleasure in blowing up and shooting the cop car that they see heading towards them (not knowing that it's Robocop). Moreover, Hob isn't the only nasty kid in this movie. In fact, in the middle of the movie after he's been reprogrammed, Robocop and Lewis come across some Little Leaguers who are being led by their coach into robbing a store and these little bastards aren't much better than Hob. They unapologetically vandalize the store and take everything that they can, with one girl even taking pleasure in smacking the injured shop owner's leg with a bat. They're also as foul-mouthed as Hob, as shown when one of them notices how silly Robocop is acting and comments, "Man, he's fucked up," and they then use the cyborg's condition as an opportunity to escape. Right after that, Robocop comes across some more nasty kids who curse him out after he turns off the fire hydrant that they've cracked open and one of them sprays KIK ME on his back. On that note, in movies that take place in environments like this, the amount of profanity said makes it feel all the more seedy and nasty to me, adding to the tone. Like I've said, the depiction of Detroit here reminds me a lot of Predator 2, only, to be fair, I think that film's depiction of Los Angeles was more inhospitable with the drug wars, blistering heat, and the Predator running around and butchering people for trophies.
Finally, the film's tone also comes down to the villains, but not in the way you would expect. The fact of the matter is that, unlike the original, none of the bad guys in this film are actually likable. Despite how nasty and evil they were, Dick Jones and Clarence Boddicker were also quite likable in some ways. I can't say that about any of the villains in the sequel. The Old Man is nothing but a cold and cruel businessman who's determined to take control of Detroit, Dr. Faxx is an insane psychiatrist who's so dedicated to her experiment that she doesn't see how this could go horribly wrong, Holzgang is just an asshole lawyer, Cain is an underdeveloped, God-like cult leader, Hob is surprisingly the most intimidating and monstrous of all the villains but hardly likable, and Angie is a junkie who's relegated to doing nothing but following whoever supplies with her Nuke at any given time. These despicable characters, who make up a good percent of the cast, combined with everything else I've described her, just add to the mean-spirited and, at some points, sheer unpleasantness of the movie. By this point, you probably think that I'm a huge prude and you're wondering why I'm even reviewing this movie. Well, first off, if you've been with my blog long enough, you'd know that I'm far from a prude. Second, I know that there are some who actually like RoboCop 2 for its mean-spiritedness and I can respect that. For me personally, though, despite the fact that I've seen movies that are much more brutal and nasty than this, I can't help but feel like, "Ugh," whenever I watch this movie because I can just sense the venom coming from its tone. There's an ugliness to this that I can't shake and it, combined with the other things I don't like such as the overcrowded story, the treatment and characterization of many of the returning characters, and so on, make RoboCop 2 a movie that I hardly ever watch. And I feel I must make it clear again, since I've been talking about it so much here and my comparisons to this film probably sound very negative, that I very much enjoy Predator 2. That movie's mean-spirited too but as a whole it works so much better than RoboCop 2 with the likable characters, excellent action, and very nice pace that I'm able to overlook that aspect of it; in fact, as some feel about RoboCop 2, I like that that movie doesn't pull any punches. As always, it all comes down to nothing more than personal perception.
Despite its tone, RoboCop 2 does have more than its fair share of humor, some of it either being darkly or from the satire, like the original, whereas the rest of it is just pure comedy. The darkly humorous stuff outside of the satire on the media that's present here mainly comes from the footage near the beginning of a couple of the failed Robocop 2 prototypes. As explained afterward, the police officers whose brains are placed inside of these cyborgs were unable to cope with being turned into machines and suffer extreme mental breakdowns before committing suicide. The first one starts out okay but it quickly degenerates, shooting a couple of lab technicians, including injuring Dr. Schenk's arm, before ultimately turning the gun on itself. The funny part about that is the cyborg's electronic voice saying, "Stop or I'll shoot!" as it proceeds to do just that and actually slurs in that hilarious mechanical way before it kills itself. It's pretty funny and the same goes for the second prototype. The poor guy whose brain was placed inside of that cyborg doesn't even try to attack the lab technicians. He just rips his helmet off, revealing a slightly bloody skull that lets out a high-pitched scream before he drops dead. Again, it's dark humor and is pretty funny at that. I also like one bit of black humor during the section of the movie where Robocop has all of those ridiculous directives placed inside of his head. He's so out of it that he doesn't realize that Lewis killed the guy leading those delinquent Little Leaguers with a headshot and when Lewis turns around at one point, she sees Robocop holding up the guy's dead body while giving him his rights. Lewis tells him, "You're reading Miranda to a corpse!" and Robocop quickly looks at her, looks back at the body, and drops it, commenting, "I'm... having... trouble." That manages to get a giggle out of me.
Speaking of which, that entire section of the movie does make me smile. Peter Weller is priceless as the extremely neutered Robocop who can't do anything about the silly directives that have been placed inside of his brain and must obey them. He's so chipper and overly friendly, calling Sergeant Reed by his first name, which Robocop would never do, complimenting Lewis on her hair, and stating how lovely the moon is, even though it's the middle of the day. It's even funnier when he has to do deal with crimes and how, because of his directives, he can't take any action against the criminals but must instead try to "talk it out" with them. When he sees what those Little Leaguers have done to the store, he says, "Oh, this isn't very nice. Though you may think you're having fun now, you... only hurt the one you love. What about Mom? What about Dad? And now, a word on nutrition." That's when one of the kids comments, "Jeez, he's fucked up." Robocop then tell them that, "Bad language makes for bad feelings." As the kids run out, Robocop continues talking, saying, "The point is, we all have to work..." before realizing that they're gone and says, "I haven't finished." After that, while he and Lewis are driving around, they see some kids messing around in the water gushing out of a fire hydrant and Robocop goes up to them, turns the water off, and says, "Waste makes haste. For time is fleeting. A rolling stone is worth two in the bush." One of the kids says, "Go fuck a refrigerator, pecker neck!" Robocop proceeds to tell him that bad language makes for bad feelings while another spray paints KIK ME on his back. The kid who cursed him out tells him he's nuts and they run off. Lewis then tries to take Robocop back to the station but Robocop suddenly swings around, takes his gun out, and shoots a bunch of holes in the wall behind this poor guy, creating a pattern around his head and scaring him so badly that he drops his cigarette. Robocop tells him, "Thank you for not smoking," and then puts his gun away. (I know they actually used that clip in movie theaters as an anti-smoking ad and I kind of wish they still used it because I think it would work today.) All of this stuff is extremely silly but I'd be lying if I said that it didn't make chuckle, mainly due to how well Weller pulls it off. And you really have to see the irony of a focus group suggesting all of these nonsensical directives to tone Robocop down because he's become a role model for the children being a plot-point in the movie when, immediately after this film, Orion actually tried to do the same thing by toning the next movie down to a PG-13 in hopes of bringing a younger audience. (I'm actually surprised they let this one be R-rated, seeing as how Robocop was already pretty popular at this point and you'd had that short-lived cartoon series the year after the original movie.) In both the movie world and the real world, they attempted to neuter Robocop and, as we'll see when we get to RoboCop 3, it went over about as well as you would expect in both instances.
That section of the film is far from being the only part where there are instances of humor courtesy of Robocop himself. Most of that comes from when he's being very formal or from the methods that he sometimes employs. His entrance into the movie, despite also being very bad-ass, has some humor to it, like his first couple of lines where he says, "Peace officer," and right after that when one of the criminals shoots at him, he says, "Think it over, creep," before wasting that guy. There's also some sadistic humor in seeing Robocop interrogate the last living member of the gang about where he got the Nuke in his car by grabbing his nose in a very painful manner and constantly asking, "Where is it made?" The same goes for later on when he's tossing Officer Duffy around this arcade like a ragdoll, trying to get him to say where Cain's hideout. You can't help but smile when Robocop constantly smashes Duffy's face into the monitor of one of the game machines, causing him a lot of pain, until the guy finally cracks. And not only is the way Robocop takes out the man threatening the baby at the beginning of the movie very creative but it's also darkly funny with the way he angles his shot so it ricochets off of this metal door and hits the guy's head. As I said, Robocop's deadpan and formal way of saying stuff when he's on duty makes for some funny moments, like during his raid on the drug lab at the beginning when, after shooting a bunch of men, Robocop tells the hysterical ladies, "Ladies, stay down." I also like the part where he walks into the arcade where Duffy is meeting with Hob and very calmly comments, "Isn't this a school day?" causing a riot amongst the kids and prompting them to throw stuff at him to give Lewis cover to get the drop on Hob and the other henchman who's with him. And, of course, we have the ending of the movie where Robocop makes an honest joke to Lewis after she comments that they can't bring the Old Man to justice: "Patience, Lewis. We're only human." I could go on and give out every funny moment from Robocop in the film but I think that's enough to show that there is a substantial amount of humor that comes from the character himself.
There are other bits of out and out comedy in the film, such as Mayor Kuzak's loud, over the top, foul-mouthed outbursts that occur whenever he loses his temper, which is quite often. It is kind of funny to me, like when tells the Old Man, "Fuck you, you senile old bastard! This is bullshit!" and such and it also works for the character because, despite its humorous qualities, you know that when he does blow his top, he's doing it while fighting for the city's best interests. I also like it how, when Robocop and RoboCain begin their climactic battle, the Old Man suddenly goes, "Behave yourselves!" Other humor in the film, though, I don't think works that well, mainly the bit they try to have with Cain when he tries a brand of Nuke that his technician Frank (Frank Miller's cameo role) has cooked up. The stuff slurs his speech and Cain, in his shaky voice, tells Frank what to add to counteract the effect. It's supposed to be funny but I didn't even smirk at it and plus, like I said, I already wasn't impressed with the character of Cain so giving him some really bad comedy didn't help his case with me either. Oh, yeah, and Cain also apparently has Elvis' corpse in his hideout as well. Whatever.
Some have complained that RoboCop 2 moves away from the satirical elements that made the first one so unique and interesting. I wouldn't say that it moves away from it necessarily because it's definitely still here. Hell, that whole subplot about OCP's attempt to buy Detroit and the underhanded techniques that they're using is certainly a very biting look at big business and privatization, possibly even more so than the already less than enthusiastic view of corporations that was presented in the first film. And the commentary on the nature of the media and advertising is also very much alive and well here. You have more clips of the overly chipper news program, Media Break and, in fact, just like the first one, the movie begins with a bit of that show (after a hilariously dark commercial that I'll go into presently) and the first line from the male anchor, Casey Wong, is, "On the international scene, the Amazon nuclear facility has blown its stack, irradiating the world's largest rainforest. Environmentalists are calling it a disaster," with the woman, Jess Perkins, commenting, "But don't they always?" before going onto her story. These anchors are as overly upbeat and irreverent about the horrible events going on in the world as ever. Granted, you don't get as much of Media Break this time around as you did before and the ones that come after this opening one aren't quite as funny, which is why some may feel that the film moves away from the satire, but it's still very much here.
|Because, when it comes to protecting|
your car, murder is perfectly
RoboCop 2 had a much bigger budget than the original and it's a case where the money is up there on the screen in terms of the makeup and visual effects (even the film itself looks more polished and not as gritty as the first one did). Not only do you have Rob Bottin and his people coming back but you also have some work done by Chris Walas, the guy who did the creature effects for Gremlins and won an Oscar for his work on David Cronenberg's The Fly. I'm not even going to pretend like I know exactly who did what but I'm confident that Bottin not only created the new Robocop suit (again, an awesome piece of work) but also once again did the makeup to create the feeling that Peter Weller's face was sitting atop the face of the cyborg. As you saw from that image of Weller near the beginning of the review, it's another amazing job. In fact, I can safely say that it's even better than the already amazing effect that was done in the first film because, as Irvin Kershner often did in his films, the camera is just inches away from Weller's face and, no matter how hard I look at it or how crystal clear the image is, I cannot see the line separating his actual face from the appliances used to make it seem as if his face is either stapled or stitched to the cyborg. It is, in short, amazing. There's also some nice animatronic work that's used for the bit of the movie when Robocop has been dismantled by Cain's gang and his disembodied torso is writhing and twitching in agony. You can tell that it's an animatronic but, oddly enough, that works to the film's advantage when it's meant to be just the torso of a cyborg, whereas it wouldn't have if they used it when he was in one piece. Also, the contorted, distressed look on the face really works since Robocop is in so much pain at that point and is rather freaky-looking in some shots. The other makeup effects are top notch as well, including all of the gunshot wounds that you see erupt on people's bodies, the nasty vivisection of Duffy's chest that you get a glimpse of, the much more graphic effects like bullet hole in the forehead of the Little League coach and the hole that Robocop puts right through a sniper's eye at one point, and all of the gore that you see when they're removing Cain's brain to put it inside Robocop 2. That latter scene is pretty realistic and nasty, with the nice looks at the hollowed out top of Cain's skull, the brain as it's being removed, and even a slightly obscured but still clear enough glance at Cain's head after the operation. And the brain itself looks pretty impressive when it's sitting in the large test tube, looking out at Dr. Faxx with the eyeballs that are still attached to it.
The visual effects of the film are also very well done. Not only do the matte paintings and shots of the city and buildings look really good but you, again, have stop-motion effects by Phil Tippett. There's a lot more of the latter here as well, since you have the two failed Robocop 2 prototypes in addition to RoboCain and the enormous battle he has with Robocop at the end of the film. In fact, RoboCop 2 may mark the last extensive use of stop-motion in live-action films (I don't count James and the Giant Peach because that film is live-action and stop-motion animation joining together to create a complete half and half type of movie), a fact that's rather sad when you think about it. As with the first film, while the animation is clearly dated nowadays, especially when it's matted in with the state of the art makeup and suit work present throughout it (the matte work itself for those scenes, again, looks more than a little wonky at points), there's both a charm and a creative element to it that CGI just doesn't have. And, despite its datedness, the stop-motion is well done. I mean, it's Phil Tippett, who's a real expert at this stuff, so it naturally looks really good. The failed Robocop 2 prototypes are both well executed and funny, not only in the ways they destroy themselves but also in their appearance. They look so clunky and low-tech when compared to Robocop that it's hard to believe they thought these things would ever take his place. They would have been easily wiped out by criminals if they hadn't killed themselves.
RoboCain's design looks pretty good as well. Although I at first I didn't like the fact he looks so over the top and monstrous because it seemed like the most obvious way to go, I now realize that, in looking at the two prototypes that came before him, that's just how OCP was thinking. They were thinking in the same way that Dick Jones probably was when he came up with the design for ED-209, that being bigger and more intimidating was more effective than using the human, personable look of Robocop, which, ultimately, was probably the sole idea of Bob Morton. In any case, RoboCain (or Robocop 2) is a very lethal machine, probably more so than ED-209. Not only do you have an arsenal of weapons like a mini-gun, an assault cannon, a retractable battering ram, and a blowtorch, all of which it uses with deadly precision, but also the brain of a psychotic drug lord who's just as dependent on his own drug now as he was before and is in horrible pain when he doesn't get it, making him even more dangerous. He also has the unusual feature of a monitor that he ejects from his head which has a computerized rendition of his face on it. I'm pretty sure that's an early example of CGI graphics because it doesn't look like traditional animation but I could be wrong. Either way, that face can be quite intimidating when it's angry or in pain, made even freakier by the fact that Cain can only communicate in mechanical growls and roars when using the monitor (I don't know why he can't talk). Even when the face is trying to be nice when Cain is trying to lower Angie's defenses, it still makes my skin crawl a little bit, probably it has a bit of an Uncanny Valley feel to it. The stop-motion animation that Tippett uses to bring RoboCain to life is just as good as the ED-209 sequences from the first film. In fact, it's even more impressive because he's onscreen a lot more than ED-209 was and he's the center of a couple of very large sequences: the rampage that he goes on to kill Mayor Kuzak and those who betrayed him and the entire climax of the movie, where he and Robocop engage in a massive battle that starts inside of a large building, goes to the top of it, and leads to a final confrontation out on the streets. While you have some iffy-looking matte shots used to combine the stop-motion and the live-action every now and then, it's some impressive work nonetheless, especially that huge final battle, which has so many effects shots it, including many more stop-motion shots of Robocop himself than there were in the first film. This stuff truly is a real spectacle to behold.
Like its predecessor, RoboCop 2 has you covered if you're looking for nothing more than just action. It basically opens with an action scene, where we see some crooks blow open this weapons store (not a very smart thing to do, though, if you think about it) and then raid it, grabbing everything they can get their hands on. After taking a huge arsenal of weapons, including grenade launchers, bazookas, and an enormous rocket launcher (what kind of a weapon shop is this, anyway?), they hear a police siren approaching, which confuses them since the police are on strike at this point. Stepping outside the store's shattered window, they indeed see a cop car approaching and one of them uses the rocket launcher on it, flipping it over and spinning it around on the other side of the street. Not content with just blowing it up once, they use the bazooka on it and then hit it with a bunch of rounds of assault rifle-fire, reducing it to nothing more than a burned out husk. They then prepare to load up their getaway car but, when the destroyed police car's door opens and we see a metal foot hit the ground, we know that they're in for it. Without a scratch on him, Robocop steps out of the car and deploys his gun (awesome entrance for him). The one crook who's loading up the car fires at him but immediately gets wasted. The other crooks rush outside and fire on Robocop as well but he makes short work of them too, killing one and shooting the other in the left arm. After inspecting the front of their car, Robocop sees a pack of Nuke and painfully interrogates the last remaining crook as to where it's made. The guy says that he only knows where he gets it and, after no doubt getting that information from him off-camera, Robocop heads down the sidewalk and through an alleyway, with a bunch of homeless people staring at him, until he finds a door with a slant in it. Robocop knocks, very softly, I might add, and when the guard stationed inside looks through the slant, he smashes through the door, knocking the guy out. Upon entering the place, he locks a couple of other men inside a cooler and then proceeds through the building until he finds the lab where they're preparing the Nuke.
After scanning the lab and seeing Cain there along with his core group, Robocop enters the room, turns off the radio that's playing, and tells everyone to freeze. Of course, several guys run out and shoot at him, with Cain using this distraction to take cover. Robocop quickly wastes the shooters and, after telling the ladies in the room to stay down, kills another guy who pops up behind him and shoots. At this point, Cain activates a thick layer of gas, giving him enough cover so he can escape. Cain and two of his lackeys, including Angie, make it to their limo and drive away as Lewis arrives to provide Robocop with backup. As Robocop reloads (which, as some have pointed out, is the only time in this series where we ever see him do so), Lewis heads inside and, upon hearing them behind the door, attempts to arrest the two guys trapped inside the refrigerator but they try to attack her and Lewis is forced to shoot one while the other accidentally shoots his partner. At this point, Robocop encounters Hob for the first time and is unable to shoot him due to his age. Hob takes the opportunity to shoot Robocop point-blank in the face, momentarily messing up his memory and causing it to become scrambled with images from his past-life. He snaps out of it when he hears a baby crying and sees that one of the gunmen has taken the baby that he saw earlier hostage. He threatens to kill the baby if he and Lewis, who shows up from the other direction, don't get rid of their weapons. Robocop tells Lewis to, "Hang it up," and she does so, while he himself acts like he surrenders. However, little does the gunman know that Robocop's using his targeting system to come up with an alternate means of taking out and, while the guy continuously threatens the baby and Robocop patronizes him, the cyborg shoots at an metal door, which bounces the bullet and sends it straight into the gunman's head. Lewis grabs the baby out of the dead man's hands and gives him back to his mother, who compliments Robocop on his shooting while he proceeds to stop on one last bit of Nuke on the floor.
The next action sequences comes when Robocop and Lewis are staking out an arcade where they find Hob and another one of Cain's men hanging out. After finding out about Officer Duffy's crookedness, Robocop walks in and creates a very loud and chaotic distraction, while Lewis attempts to arrest Hob and the gunman as they try to escape. Hob tries to shoot Lewis but she kicks him back and gets into a fight with the gunman. Lewis manages to subdue the guy but Hob, realizing that he's out of ammo in his weapon, attacks her from behind and attempts to strangle her with some wire. While this is going on, Duffy tries to sneak out but runs into Robocop, who shoves him against an arcade machine and puts his foot on his chest, asking him where Cain is. When he refuses to answer the question, Robocop picks him up and starts slamming his face into another arcade machine's monitor. Meanwhile, Lewis finally gets Hob off of her back by slamming him against a wall and, as she's attempting to recover, he escapes. The gunman runs away too but Lewis chases after him (I don't know if she caught him or not). After a lot of pain, Duffy finally tells Robocop where Cain is and gets tossed aside like a ragdoll before Robocop heads out to Cain's hideout. I do find it amusing that a song called The Kid Goes Wild is playing over the entire scene. It's quite appropriate, especially when Hob is on-camera. Upon arriving at the abandoned plant where Cain is held up, Robocop rightly realizes that the front gate might be booby-trapped and has the car roll in by itself, which results in it getting blown up by a mine under the dirt. I don't know how Robocop managed to pull that off, though. I'm guessing he pushed the car and then took cover behind the small shack we see him hiding behind, although I don't know how he did that without being seen, but whatever. Robocop enters the plant, not realizing that Cain's men, knowing how resourceful he is, are ready for him. After being shot a little bit and taking the time to stare at the apparent corpse of Elvis, Robocop surveys the area a little more and comes across Angie, whom he follows until he sees Cain standing off to the right. Robocop approaches Cain, preparing to kill him but Hob suddenly shoots his right hand off with a turret gun and Angie shoots him with a shock-anchor that disables him even further. As he's surrounded by Cain's men, Robocop manages to tear the anchor off of his chest and then uses the exposed wires in his severed hand to send a shock back towards Angie. He gets to his feet but is knocked back down by a crane hook and is hoisted up into the air by an enormous magnet. He's placed onto a table and is chained down as they prepare to take him apart. At first, it looks as if they can't get through his very tough armor but they find his weakness: his joints. They cut his leg off and begin sawing through his middle, with Hob spraying some of the liquid from his insides onto Robocop's face as he screams in pain.
While there is a bit of action during the section of the movie when Robocop is acting goofy do those new directives, the next real action occurs after he frees himself from them and rallies the cops to go after Cain. I like how in a scene after this, as a long line of squad cars drives down the road towards Cain's hideout, a hotdog vendor comments, "They're going to kick somebody's ass!" The cops arrive at the plant and quickly deploy inside, sweeping the area, before Robocop spots a sniper who's got his crosshairs on him and shots right through his scope and into his right eye. Another shows up to his left and the cyborg dispenses with him as well. A guy up top injures one cop's leg and forces the others to take cover but Lewis makes her way behind him and kills him when he swings around to shoot her. As several of the cops take their injured comrade out of the building, Robocop effortlessly kills a few other gunmen as Hob and Angie deal with the cops massed outside, with Hob firing his machine gun at them, hitting several in the process as Angie fires gas grenades to obscure their vision. The two of them manage to escape by using one of Cain's armored vans to plow through the plant's main door and drive away. Back inside the building, the cops find where exactly the Nuke was being developed but have to take cover when a time bomb blows it up. Cain then attempts to escape by use of another armored van and drives straight into Robocop when he steps in front of him and attempts to shoot him. Robocop manages to cling to the front of the van as Cain drives down the street and swerves in an attempt to sling him off, driving straight through a bar at one point. With Robocop now hanging onto the side of the van, Cain drives down an alley and scrapes him along the wall. Robocop still manages to hold his grip and punches through the driver's side window to try to grab Cain but he gets knocked off when Cain drives toward a telephone poll. In order to continue the chase, Robocop borrows a motorcycle from a passing rider (and by "borrowed," I mean that he grabs it and slings the guy off of it in the process). As Cain continues driving, he sees that Robocop is chasing him in the rearview mirror. Robocop actually drives right past Cain and, when he gets to the end of street, turns the motorcycle around to face Cain, who stops the van in the middle of the road. The two of them stare each other down while revving their engines and then gun it directly at each other. Robocop crashes through Cain's windshield, grabbing him in the process, and the van then flips over on its side after running into a parked car.
The next action sequence is the deployment of Robocop 2, aka RoboCain, to murder Mayor Kuzak when he meets with Hob and what's left of Cain's organization to get the money needed to pay the city's debt to OCP. RoboCain arrives at the abandoned warehouse where the meeting is being held, lifts up the enormous door at the back of it, drops it, and then, showing that Cain, despite his insanity and drug addiction, is very intelligent, shoots out the lights before beginning the hunt. While Kuzak, Hob, and Angie take cover, RoboCain massacres all of the gunmen who attempt to take him down. Their weapons are useless against him and he easily cuts them down with his mini-gun. One of the mayor's aides surrenders but, obviously, RoboCain isn't taking prisoners and kills him. Poulos, Kuzak's traitorous assistant, manages to get outside of the main part of the warehouse but RoboCain's mini-gun is able to shoot through the walls and eventually kills Poulos as well. As RoboCain continues making his way through the warehouse, searching for Kuzak as well as any other witnesses, he comes across Angie cowering behind some equipment and this when he uses the monitor with the computerized rendition of his face to lower her defenses. Just when she thinks that Cain has forgiven her, he grabs her face and twists back and forth, crushing both her neck and her spine with a sickening crunch, all while Hob is watching in horror from his nearby hiding place. After RoboCain moves off, Hob runs and attempts to hide in the back of the van he and Angie used to escape the plant but he's spotted before he can get the doors open. That's when one of the still-living gunmen manages to get up behind RoboCain and shoot him a couple of times before the cyborg swings around and cuts the guy down. Hob manages to get inside the van but RoboCain shoots right through it with his mini-gun and, as we see later when Robocop arrives on the scene, manages to mortally wound Hob. RoboCain then comes across Kuzak just as he lifts the lid to a sewer pipe and almost kills him as well but the mayor manages to make it down there and slides down into the nearby bay.
The major climax of the movie takes place at the Civic Center building created by OCP, where the Old Man unveils both his model of Delta City and Robocop 2. Everything goes fine until the Old Man unintentionally agitates Cain's addiction by uncovering a large tube of Nuke. Unable to resist his compulsion, RoboCain smashes one of the model buildings and grabs for the Nuke, which the Old Man tosses away. Dr. Faxx tries to deactivate him but is unable to and that's when Robocop, who slipped into the building with one of the large assault rifles he used in the first movie (although the design is completely different), makes his presence known. RoboCain attempts to shoot Robocop with his mini-gun but overhears Faxx tell Mayor Kuzak, who is screaming, "That thing is a killer!" that his weapons systems aren't activated at the moment. RoboCain fixes that by bringing the remote out of Faxx's hand, activating his weapons himself, and then destroying the remote so no one can turn them back off. Now fully armed, RoboCain uses his mini-gun to fire at Robocop, who fires back with several blasts from the assault rifle. The fight continues as everyone in the auditorium evacuates and RoboCain swings around to make short work of some security guards who run inside and shoot at him, taking down some civilians who hadn't yet made it out of the building. Robocop blasts RoboCain a couple of more times with the assault rifle, prompting him to fire back with a blast of his assault cannon, knocking Robocop to the floor in the process. RoboCain fires at Robocop a few more times, with the latter rolling and ducking to avoid taking damage. From his cover, Robocop manages to shoot off the assault cannon and RoboCain then charges up the seats at him as Robocop continues firing. Not at all fazed by the shots from Robocop's gun, RoboCain using his retractable battering ram to knock him through the wall. Robocop manages to make it down the hall and to an elevator, followed very closely by RoboCain, who fires at him while walking towards him before stepping into the elevator as well. Robocop grabs onto the elevator's line and shoots it, causing the elevator to rapidly drop down the shaft. RoboCain eventually manages to wedge himself within the shaft and scuttle up to the top where Robocop is hanging. The two of them crash through a skylight at the top of the building and end up hanging on the edge, with Robocop hanging onto RoboCain's legs. RoboCain tries to crawl back up the roof but Robocop holds onto him very strongly, determined to not let him escape. He then puts his feet flat against the side of the building and pulls RoboCain, managing to drag him down the roof and leading to the two of them falling down until they crash into the basement area of a much smaller building nearby.
With the two of them lying next to each other, Robocop very slowly gets to his feet and attempts to stagger away but his leg is grabbed by RoboCain as he lifts himself up. He proceeds to smack Robocop down and then picks him up and whacks him back and forth against two parallel rows of water pipes before throwing him down and taking his plasma blowtorch to his helmet. He manages to carve a big cut in his helmet before Robocop, holding onto his arm, shoves the torch into a nearby pipe, causing it to explode in RoboCain's face. The ensuing explosion goes up to the street above and Robocop pulls himself topside through the opening it blows in the grating. It's not too long before RoboCain smashes his way to the street as well and when the police who've amassed outside the Civic Center attempt to take him down, he immediately turns on them. Just like it was when he attempted to kill the mayor, RoboCain absolutely annihilates anybody who attacks him, gunning down a bunch of police and civilians and blowing up cars, at one point blowing up the back of an ambulance, causing it to crash. His ongoing battle with the police take him to the front of the building, where he continues killing and destroying everyone and everything in his path, all the while scanning the area around him to try to find Robocop. At one point, RoboCain blows up a police van that a couple of firing officers are using as cover and destroys countless others as well, gunning down a couple of reporters and two fleeing civilians, one of whom was helping the other, injured one to safety. Lewis, realizing that this offense isn't doing any good, commandeers a nearby OCP Special Forces armored vehicle and drives right towards RoboCain, who fires her as she does so. She rams him up against the wall, with him doing his best to try to stop her, and afterward, she quickly gets out of the vehicle and joins Robocop behind a squad car. There's no movement at first and the police use this break to remove some of the injured and dead. But, the armored vehicle begins to rock back and forth and the still very much alive RoboCain pushes it out of the way. He spots Robocop and prepares to fire at him again but before he can Lewis, holds up the tube of Nuke, which Robocop recovered from inside the building during the firefight, to distract him. Lewis approaches RoboCain with the Nuke and, when she's right in front of him, throws it up in the air. RoboCain catches the tube, takes the covering off, and places it inside of him. As he relishes the feeling of his drug for the time since his death, Robocop takes the opportunity to climb onto the truck behind RoboCain and jump on his back. The two of them then get into a fierce struggling match, with RoboCain doing everything he can to knock Robocop off of him, including slamming him against the wall of the building and vehicles, while Robocop holds his grip and shoots near the base of RoboCain's head. He manages to tear off a section of the armor back there, reach in, and rip out the bit of machinery holding Cain's brain. Robocop then gets flung off and tumbles onto the street, as the monitor with Cain's face deploys and shows that he's going berserk. Finally, after saying, "Goodbye," Robocop smashes the brain's container against the street and gives it an additional smash with his first. The image of Cain's face disintegrates and the robot body shorts out before collapsing forward, with Robocop rolling out of the way to avoid being crushed.
None of the music that Basil Poledouris composed for the original is present here. Instead, Leonard Rosenman came up with an entirely new musical aesthetic, including a different theme for Robocop himself. While I do much prefer the awesome theme that Poledouris came up with for the character, the new theme certainly isn't bad; it's actually pretty good, although I could do without the female choir repeatedly saying, "Robocop. Robocop," throughout the version of it that plays over the ending credits. It's very strong, driving, and heroic, fitting just as well with the character as the classic theme did. While I would have really liked it if Rosenman had at least kept that theme, the one he came up with is certainly not a chore to listen to at all. And, oddly enough, that theme is such an ingrained part of this particular movie to me that, when I've tried to imagine it with Poledouris' music instead, I've had a hard time trying to do so. The rest of the music that he composed for the movie is pretty good too. Granted, it's not as memorable as his main theme for Robocop but it helps keep the action scenes exciting and the more emotional scenes moving, which is the only thing you can ask of any music score. And finally, I have to, again, mention that song The Kid Goes Wild by Babylon A.D. I don't know what it is about that song but it really does fit well with the action that goes on inside that arcade, especially when Hob's fighting with Lewis (there was even a music video made for that song to help promote the film).
All in all, RoboCop 2 is certainly not a horrible movie but, at the same time, I don't think it's a great one either. On the plus side, Peter Weller is once again top notch in the title role, Irvin Kershner's direction makes the film look really good, there are plenty of exciting action scenes, some more really good makeup and mechanical effects, especially the stop-motion, and the music, while not the classic theme that everybody knows and loves, is not half-bad either. Unfortunately, the film suffers from an overcrowded storyline, returning characters like Lewis and Sergeant Reed being underused, some very mind-numbing, elliptical violence that doesn't have the over the top fun of the original, and an extremely mean-spirited tone that, depending on how your personal perception of things works, can be surprisingly detrimental to this type of movie. I wouldn't say that it's a movie that doesn't deserve to be seen but, if you're a huge fan of the original and you've never seen this sequel, don't expect it to be anything other than a violent sci-fi/action or, most importantly, to have the heart and soul of its predecessor because, to be brutally honest, it just doesn't.