Robocop 2

Meandering
★★
☆☆☆☆
Released: 
1990
Director: 
Irvin Kershner
Starring: 
Peter Weller, Tom Noonan, Belinda Bauer, Nancy Allen
The Setup: 
Robocop faces down a rival robot.
Discussion: 

This has been on my list forever, and somehow I had gotten the impression that it was considered pretty good, although that proves to be far from the case. Apparently comic mastermind Frank Miller was given the task of writing a screenplay, and delivered one that was largely considered "unfilmable," and was this revised into what we have here. His version was apparently realized as a comic book. And taking over directorial duties is Irwin Kershner, best known for The Empire Strikes Back. So here we go.

The movie opens with a parody TV commercial for a car that electrocutes would-be thieves, then go to a newscast about a nuclear reactor meltdown ruining the Brazilian rainforest. The anchor says "environmentalists call it a disaster," to which his co-host replies: "But don't they always." They report on a new drug, Nuke, called the "most addictive drug ever," saying it is the scourge of the streets. We then go to the Detroit streets and find a hyper-violent criminal haven, surveying various criminals until we settle on a few robbing a gun shop, who meet a violent end when confronted by Robocop. Soon after, he is busting up a drug den, where we meet Tom Noonan as Nuke drug lord Cain, and his young (like twelve years old) protege, who shoots Robocop in the face, just enough to jiggle loose memories of his own son. Remember how Robocop had become fully conscious and regained all his old memories at the end of the original film? Yeah, forget that, now he's back to being fully robotic with just a few memories slipping in.

He goes and watches his former wife and child, and is soon told to knock it off, because she is suing the police force over it. Then they bring her in for them to reminisce, surprising for someone who is suing him to leave her alone, and he tells her that her husband died. And that's the end of that, this whole angle is summarily dropped. There's also some political hugger-mugger about OCP privatizing the police force, and the city's finances so bad they can't do a thing about it. And there's the effort to make a new, more controllable Robocop, only all of their efforts thus far have failed. We have numerous stop-motion animated versions of a new Robocop, and whenever you've got stop-motion animation, you've got fun.

So it goes on, and on, crime here, drug bust there, meetings of corrupt officials, blah, blah, and you might be forgiven for saying "This is all rather aimless, isn't it?" Because it is. It just meanders with virtually no consistent story developments for some time. Nancy Allen is still on hand, but she just shows up every now and then and has no real bearing on the story.

SPOILERS > > >
At last something happens when Robocop chases and captures Cain. One's hopes of seeing Tom Noonan own a showy psychopath role are dashed as he has almost nothing to do. It has been determined that a psychopath would be the best candidate to become Robocop 2, so they pull out his brain and spine (in an amusingly gory sequence with several sick sound effects) and install him in the new machine. Soon there's a huge shootout in which most of his former drug buddies are killed, and is an impressive action sequence although it has little bearing on the story--because there is so little story.

Then, time for the arbitrary climax. OCP honcho is introducing his vision for a completely privatized city, and introduces Robocop 2 as part of that vision. But then the real Robocop shows up, and they have a violent showdown while everyone at the press conference flees. They soon end up on the streets, where they have a big knock-down, drag-out fight. This whole thing is so over the top--and Robocop 2 remains stop-motion animated the whole time--that it is super fun and almost manages to redeem the entire film with its sheer awesomeness. Robocop wins and it's over.
< < < SPOILERS END

Well, too bad. The fun of the ending demonstrates how good this movie could have been, but it comes after 90 minutes of pure meandering that luckily isn't offensive, just doesn't add up to much of anything. So the experience is of just spending time in that world, having a little action here, a little plot there, none of it really drawing together or meaning anything, and then this kick-ass battle at the end. Good thing I made it to the end, and didn't just give up halfway through, as I was in danger of doing.

I pretty much have nothing more to say about this movie. It is mostly just a big pile of aimlessness, with almost nothing to offer except a ton of violence and time filled. Which is not to say it's unpleasant but gee, what an opportunity squandered.

Should you watch it: 

If you're a big Robocop fan and can stand disappointment.