Robocop 2 Reviews
RoboCop 2 opens by continuing the theme from its predecessor by displaying commercial products on behalf of Omni Consumer Products being marketed for their lethal value. This is followed by a brief news report summarizing the rampant crime in the contemporary world being on a rise due to a strike from police officers. However, we soon recognize that RoboCop 2 has taken a very different path to its predecessor. Many of the themes remain the same, but they are not utilized to the same effect this time around. The start of the film hints that the film will give a greater exploration to the identity of Alex Murphy and his struggles to retain his identity in his robotic form, but this ends up being a rather arbitrary plot point. The film does nothing to explore the humanity of the character or give us any insight into him, focusing simply on his role in a society dominated by corporations who strive for greater control over the world. Anne Lewis is treated even worse, reduced to being a silent background character with nothing to say and few chances to prove the strength depicted in the first film. Characterization is no strong point in RoboCop 2 as the film has larger ambitions and a misguided pursuit of them.
RoboCop himself rarely proves to be of any major relevance to the plot in RoboCop 2. He quickly finds himself severely damaged and in need of repair while Omni Consumer Products attempts to create a replacement by the name of RoboCop 2. The focus of the story is much more on Omni Consumer Products and the war on drugs in a dystopian America while RoboCop himself is a subplot in his own film. Many of the plot points in RoboCop 2 are certainly relevant with the war on drugs and criminal activities of youth being still relevant to this day, but these plot points aren't balanced well with the 80's spectacle audiences are hoping for. RoboCop 2 is a film which takes itself extremely seriously but fails to delve beneath the surface of the themes it touches upon, and its comedic edge seems to parody itself a little too heavily rather than offering a more appropriate satirical commentary. The overall tone of RoboCop 2 is poor as is its social commentary, leaving it to depend on style more than substance. Unfortunately, director Irvin Kershner does not supplement the efforts of Paul Verhoeven.
When it comes to the action scenes in RoboCop 2, the central fault lies in the fact that they are not awesome displays of RoboCop's capabilities; they're bland and overblown shootouts where bullets are flying everywhere and nobody cares who is shooting them or why. The action scenes are certainly executed with style as the cinematography and editing helps to make it a spectacle while the strong use of explosions and blood keeps it in tune with the violent nature of its predecessor, but it tends to lose focus. We have no idea where to look and who to focus on, so they end up becoming rather tedious. The final scene which shows RoboCop and RoboCop 2 engaged in battle is fairly effective since it makes use of Irvin Kershner's eye for strong imagery as well as some impressive animatronic visual effects, but the quantity of action scenes is actually far too spread out throughout the story with no consistency which means the pace of the film is a lot slower when confronting the dramatic plot points. There is a rise in scale as we see more of the dystopian universe that the story occurs in and thus the film is still a convincing visual experience, but it adds no narrative value to the rest of the story. The story itself is far too overblown because the focus shifts completely away from the characters and onto a brainless spectacle of violence. And when the spectacle itself is so unfocused and stylishly inert, the lacklustre story finds nothing to hide behind. RoboCop 2 is a saddening failure for director Irvin Kershner because as the director of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), he can be credited as a mastermind of science fiction, imagery and sequels. RoboCop 2 offers quite the opposite, stranding audiences in the presence of an incredibly lacklustre sequel where even the cast cannot find the time to shine.
Peter Weller was never one of the biggest icons of the 1980's, but he was nevertheless a flawless casting decision for Alex Murphy. He was not an overly masculine man, yet he carried the perfect line delivery of a 1980's action hero at his helm. In RoboCop 2 as he is reduced to being a supporting player in his own franchise, Peter Weller ends up with nothing to do. Once or twice during the film he points his gun, but the man has nothing interesting to say. As there is no character to the role anymore there is no purpose to care about him, so there ends up being nothing to the performance. The increased attempts at humour can be noted in the actor's 1980's charm, but it is basically a recycled assembly of small elements utilized to far superior value in the first RoboCop. Peter Weller receives few moments in RoboCop 2 where he actually has anything to do, and since the script is so dull it is no surprise that he cannot offer anything innovative. He's still fine in the role, it's just a mishandled character or lack thereof.
Nancy Allen is similarly wasted. While originally Anne Lewis was a strong and fearless police officer who kicked major ass but also provided some appropriately mediated support to the emotional heart of the story, in RoboCop 2 it is difficult to remember any major scenes in which she is actually present. With the titular hero being so irrelevant to the film, Anne Lewis cops it even worse and so the progressive heroism of a badass female action heroine is no longer present. RoboCop 2 loses much of its subtextual edge through its blatant disrespect for its characters, and Nancy Allen cops it the worst by becoming stranded in a role which has no actual relevance to anything in the story.
The only cast member in RoboCop 2 who delivers any kind of memorable effort is Tom Noonan. Though his role is small and one-dimensional, the man has a naturally creepy vibe which gave him a career playing villains in the 80's and 90's. RoboCop 2 may not be the finest display of such talents, but he nevertheless maintains an effectively creepy feeling which hints at a similarity to Kurtwood Smith. Tom Noonan's restrained and diminutive performance makes him the one presence in the film who is the slightest bit memorable out of all the arbitrary characters.
RoboCop 2 carries some decent production values, but the absence of actual focus on RoboCop himself as any integral part of the story leaves audiences with a slow and emotionally numb genre film with overblown action scenes and recycled themes.
15 minutes into this film- you see babies, less than 6 months old, in the middle of a gunfight- and you hear and see them crying, very scared and totally helpless, and after one of the gunmen holds one of the babies hostage and threatens to kill it with an automatic weapon, you see another child between the age of 12 and 14 say to Robocop (after he hesitated to shoot the armed child) "Can't shoot a kid, can you, fucker." Then he shoots Robocop in the head. When you hear that line spoken, any sensible person would know they can't watch this film any longer.
And if you do decide to continue (then you should have your head examined), you see him again- and he is an actual bad guy- a child between those juvenile ages- bribing cops, shooting guns, killing cops and other people, and dealing drugs (fake or real drugs, doesn't matter, the whole experience of watching this film will still have the same impression) and can you even expect to buy that? One would not think about that, because he/she would be too appalled at the filmmakers for creating a character like that. What were they thinking? That that kind of a character would represent an effective message to civilian society? In a not-serious movie like this? What a disastrous attempt at humanity that was.
I didn't give the film zero stars because technically, it is a superb piece of filmmaking. The action scenes and special effects are both first rate. Also, the film is actually funny at times, and Tom Noonan is a good villain. But everything else- mostly the child killer and the plot hole-ridden script completely overwhelm those good qualities. This film is totally unwatchable- it really is. It is ground zero of action and science fiction films. This movie is a complete scattershot mess and a fmisconcieved failure- I imagine this film will make every decent person who sees it feel unclean, ashamed and angry.