Robocop 2 (1990) review

Robocop 2 posterDirector: Irvin Kershner

Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy, Belinda Bauer, Tom Noonan, Gabriel Damon

CAIN – “You want me?”
ROBOCOP – “Dead or alive.”
CAIN – “One of us must die.”
ROBOCOP – “Dead, then.”

Spare a thought for Alex Murphy.

Having gained recognition as a top-notch cop, he was soon transferred to Detroit where he was promptly peppered with bullets and literally blown to pieces before his first shift had even ended.

Then, rather than being allowed to rest in peace, his head and brain were slapped inside a big robotic body and he became Robocop, a living test subject created as a prototype for the future of law enforcement.

Finally, as if he hadn’t been humiliated enough, he had to appear at a WCW wrestling event to help one of the wrestlers get out of a tiny cage. Christ.

Not only that, he keeps falling for the old "shaken Coke can" trick
Not only that, he keeps falling for the old “shaken Coke can” trick too

After having to deal with all that shit, you would hope Robocop 2 would consist mainly of our chum Robo just sitting back on his couch and watching the baseball, enjoying a rare and well-earned spot of ‘me time’.

Sadly, this isn’t the case. Instead, he has to deal with three new enemies – insane drug dealer Cain, his addictive creation Nuke and the planned unveiling of Robocop 2, a new machine designed to replace the original. And by ‘replace’ I mean ‘crush into the size of a Tizer can’.

Set shortly after the events of the first film, Robocop 2‘s Detroit has somehow managed to become even more of a decrepit, despair-ridden shitehole than it already was. Muggers rob muggers, old ladies are packing pistols and even priests are regularly punching dogs to death. Probably.

This isn’t because Robocop has failed, of course. Far from it. The problem is every other police officer is on strike because evil parent company OCP has cut their salaries. Since Robo can’t be everywhere at once, multiple instances of shit are still going down throughout Detroit.

"Seriously mate, you should get that checked out, it might be infected"
“Seriously mate, you should get that checked out, it might be infected”

King of the pishheap is Cain, an unhinged drug dealer who’s created a new injectable narcotic known as Nuke. Everyone who tries Nuke feels amazing but after a while they find they can’t live without it. A bit like Irn Bru, really.

Keen to get to the bottom of the Nuke problem, Robocop spends the first half of the film trying to track down and defeat Cain, while also dealing with his numerous cronies (including a young child called Hob, oddly).

Meanwhile, the nasty scientist types at OCP are working on a replacement for Robocop, the cleverly named Robocop 2.

You see, Robocop is effective at getting the job done, but he also has some problems, particularly when it comes to emotional baggage.

"Okay, okay, you've got my fucking nose. Christ almighty, you always take this game too fucking far"
“Okay, okay, you’ve got my fucking nose. Christ almighty, you always take this game too far”

Since he was a conscientious cop and a brilliant husband and father when he was alive, Robo still has elements of his past lingering around in his android brainbox. He stalks his former wife in an attempt to win her back, and can’t come to terms with the fact that she can’t accept what he’s become.

This simply won’t do, which is why OCP decides it wants to build a new and improved Robocop, one that doesn’t use the mind of someone with the potential to destroy themselves due to grief. Maybe a massive drug dealer or something. Actually, hang on a minute.

After Cain blows Robocop into several tiny pieces (again) and delivers him at the police station, OCP rebuilds him with a load of new directives added to his firmware, more or less preventing him from doing anything other than being the shittest cop around: giving OCP another reason to replace him with a newer model.

The newly pussified Robo thinks “fuck this” and electrocutes himself, wiping his ruleset and leaving him free to track down Cain, boot his dick in and leave him for dead. That’s handy, because I was only just saying it’d be useful to have a drug dealer’s brain to use in Robocop 2. Funny that. Wonder what happens next.

This is Robocop 2. It's got that classic video game boss trait - a giant X on its chest which might just be pointing out its weak spot
This is Robocop 2. It’s got that classic video game boss trait – a giant X on its chest which might just be pointing out its weak spot

Although it never really comes closer to matching the original in terms of quality or memorable moments, Robocop 2 is still a fine sequel.

Although it tries to imitate the feel of Robocop with more mock TV news reports and commercials, it loses much of the social commentary that made its predecessor still feel relevant all these years later. The result is merely a fun action film rather than the multi-layered movie Verhoeven gave us the first time around.

Still, a fun action film is still a fun action film, and Peter Weller does a decent job as a more emotionally confused Robocop struggling to decide if he’s more man or machine.

Plus there’s a bit where he drives a motorbike into a truck.

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HOW CAN I SEE IT?
The standalone version of Robocop 2 is currently out of print in the UK, meaning the only way to get hold of it is by buying the thankfully cheap Robocop trilogy box set on either DVD or Blu-ray. Same deal in Americaland: here’s the DVD and here’s the Blu-ray.

If you’re a Netflix subscriber, it’s also (at the time of writing) available on the UK version of Netflix, but not the US one. Add it to your watch list here.

SHOW ME THE TRAILER:

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