It is now Lent, and this means a change in my schedule. This has nothing to do with this review, but I will make it clearer in others. At any rate, I figured since I did not go to the theater on the day I typically do, why not watch RoboCop 2 (1990)? Look, I will admit this is rather dissociative sounding. The only slightly reasonable factor I can give you for watching this one is that I have already done Robocop (1987). When there is a series of films and I have only seen or addressed one of them, I look at the rest as sort of an unfinished side in a ledger. In other words, I am giving into an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Then again, one person’s weird fixation is another’s The Legionnaire. Work that one out for what you will as you read this review of RoboCop 2.
When last we saw Officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller), who is once more the title character in RoboCop 2, he had almost died taking down a criminal kingpin. The person who I thought had died was his partner in the Detroit police, Officer Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen), but here they are patrolling the mean streets. This time, they are made meaner by a new drug called “Nuke.” I sat through the whole thing and I am still unclear as to what it does, but it has something to do with emotions. As can be expected from a movie like this, there is a main villain behind its distribution, and that is a man named Cain (Tom Noonan). Above all the chaos, and I do mean chaos, is Omni Consumer Products (OCP). Think of every bad stereotype you can about evil corporations and that basically describes this company. Specifically, its president, known as “The Old Man” (Dan O’Herlihy), has designs on taking over the city and remaking it in his own image. For him, the increasing trouble is made worse for Detroit mayor Marvin Kuzak (Willard E. Pugh) by the fact that the city owes OCP several million dollars. This is putting pressure on him to hand control of the city over to the company. Because of its financial problems, they cannot pay the entire police force, who are picketing outside of headquarters. Unfortunately for OCP, they cannot rely on their creation from the last film, RoboCop. Despite them insisting to him that he is just a machine, he cannot stop believing that he is really Alex Murphy. There is a strange side-plot with Murphy’s ex-wife suing the city for him basically stalking her, but then she comes to headquarters to confront him. What transpires would suggest that she does not mind the fact that he is a cyborg, but that he is giving up on his humanity, and yet this works against the logic of the previous sentences and the whole thing goes nowhere. Instead, RoboCop focuses on attempting to take down Cain. He is fed the location of the notorious drug dealer by a corrupt cop. Unfortunately, this gives his crew time to prepare an ambush for the cyborg police officer, who, of course, decides to go it alone. His initial assault gains him access, but they eventually defeat him with the clever use of magnets. Curse his metal body! The criminals are none too bright themselves, and decide to return RoboCop to the precinct in pieces. When OCP brings RoboCop back to their laboratory to fix him, they install a new set of programming that has the crime stopping machine behaving more like a boy scout. In the meantime, the behavioral programming gives company mental health professional Dr. Juliette Faxx (Belinda Bauer) the inspiration to come up with a new RoboCop, which they plan to name, er . . . RoboCop 2. . . . Seriously. Anywho, Officer Lewis quickly notices there is something wrong with her old partner, and eventually RoboCop comes to the same conclusion. How does a cyborg fix himself? He goes out to the transformer and runs several thousand volts of electricity through his body. Now, he is back, though I apologize for the Terminatorreference. This time, he brings a bunch of other police officers, but it still comes down to him and Cain. I will let you guess who wins. This provides opportunities for two people. First, Dr. Faxx looks at Cain’s brain as the perfect one to power her new version of RoboCop. So, yeah, their bright idea is to put the mind of a drug addicted, psychotic maniac into an unstoppable killing machine, and think nothing will go wrong because of programming. Well, this is proven almost immediately false when CainCop (that is not a name used in the movie, but I think it is fitting) stumbles into the second person trying to take advantage of the situation. Mayor Kuzak approaches the person running Cain’s former organization, a twelve-year-old kid (no joke) named Hob (Gabriel Damon). The redetermined(?) RoboCop arrives to find the aftermath of the destruction, though Mayor Kuzak manages to escape. Anyway, for the Old Man, he believes that crime has been effectively solved and it is time to unveil his plans for the city. This includes revealing CainCop, who goes crazy when the Old Man holds up a cannister of Nuke. Only RoboCop can stop CainCop, which eventually happens after a drawn-out cyborg fight. Nothing much seems to change, though, as the Old Man pins everything on Dr. Faxx before getting in his limo and driving away. And, yeah, the movie ends.
RoboCop 2 is at times pointless and in more than one way. The excessive violence is one thing, and something I will return to in a moment. There are many themes in it that are interesting from a Catholic perspective but are frustratingly not completely explored. There is the whole notion of whether Officer Murphy is human or the cyborg known as RoboCop. There is some conflict in him over this as seen in the exchange with his ex-wife. I kept expecting the film to come back to this, but it never does. Further, they attempt to program a faux humanity into RoboCop that gets him to think a little instead of automatically opening fire on anything that moves. I suppose I am looking for philosophy in a film that cares more about explosions, and in such an exercise lies madness. Yet, the themes are introduced. Thus, if audiences care more about the violence, why even attempt principles? In the end, RoboCop can call himself Officer Murphy, but he really is just RoboCop. Despite this, I would still have to dignify him as human. While this is all theoretical because our society has never experienced something like RoboCop, the dilemma, however fleetingly treated, speaks to human life. And since all life is sacred, no matter how small or finite, so, too, would be whatever is left of Officer Murphy. Pope Francis has spoken recently that he hopes artificial intelligence will remain in the service of humanity. This relates to the robotic side of Officer Murphy, so that also can be redeemed by Faith. It is just sad to see it abused so, even if this is fiction.
Prepare yourself for two more of these after RoboCop 2. Not to prejudice my opinion, but I suspect that, like this one, I will not be recommending them. But, hey, at least RoboCop saves a baby.