Film: RoboCop 2 (1990)
Director: Irvin Kershner
Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Tom Noonan
Written by: Frank Miller, Walon Green
I’m not going to argue that the sequel to RoboCop is better than the original (especially since Red Forman died in the first film), but I will say that RoboCop 2 is a great sequel that pushes the story of this ghost in the machine into bold, inevitable territory. The first film was funnier, sure, and it did have Red Forman killing fools and maligning bitches, but the second act is frighteningly prophetic.
RoboCop’s creators in the industrial conglomerate OCP were portrayed in the first movie as sort of a Shakespearian collection of backbiters and scumbags, yet they weren’t really the story’s villains. Sure there was a villainous VP who closed the film on the receiving end of some iron justice, but for the most part RoboCop spent his days taking out the ground level trash and left the white collars to scheme. In the second film, there’s no ambiguity to it; OCP is the evil empire. Its goal: to force the city of Detroit to default on its debts and then convert the city into its own corporate fiefdom.
Sounds rather modern, no?
Sure, RoboCop spends a good chunk of the film fighting the street trash, in this case represented by a drug cult comprised of an ecstatic Tom Noonan, a member of the Memphis Mafia, and a monstrous little shit that shoots RoboCop in the face. Yet it quickly becomes clear that OCP is pulling the strings, and all the later disasters that RoboCop must undo are entirely the responsibility of the corporation.
There’s a great segment in the middle of the film where OCP’s meddling has a funnier result. After getting dismembered by the drug cult and having his ass handed to him, RoboCop is “fixed” by the conniving head of R&D, who focus groups him into irrelevancy. Thanks to the input of nervous soccer moms, RoboCop’s four Prime Directives grow into hundreds, and the bureaucracy forces him to behave so benignly that he’s completely useless. Breaking up a robbery perpetrated by an evil Little League team, RoboCop gives the kids (and their dead coach) a stern talking-to, which they promptly ignore. Then he opens fire on a guy enjoying a cigarette. So great is the idiocy that our hero finds no other option but to open up a power station and electrocute the stupidity out of himself. If only it were so easy for the rest of us.
I really like RoboCop 2, even if the end involves a battle to the death between RoboCop and a junkie deathbot. Films like the RoboCop series are a good reminder that all the political and corporate shit we’re dealing with now is nothing new. People decades ago knew where we were headed, and here we are. Perhaps we should have heeded the warnings.