RoboCop 2

While the original RoboCop is generally regarded as a classic of sorts, its sequel is unfairly maligned. That Paul Verhoeven left the franchise after episode one is too bad, but his cynical shoes are nicely filled by comic book writer Frank Miller, the man responsible for the defining Batman and Daredevil stories and the brilliant Sin City series (currently being made into a movie by Robert Rodriguez).

“RoboCop 2” is helmed by Irvin Kershner, director of the best Star Wars flick, and like The Empire Strikes Back, the second “RoboCop” is tighter and darker than its predecessor.

The story revolves around NUKE, “the most addictive narcotic in history, a plagu-RA-TA-TA-TA-TA!!! (the Surgeon General is machine-gunned down before he can continue). Meanwhile, OCP still runs the Detroit Police Department poorly, allowing whores, junkies and Little League players (!) to turn the streets into a war zone. Only the half-human, half-machine RoboCop still does what he can to uphold justice, but he has to deal with corrupted superiors, a prepubescent drug lord and a NUKE-addicted giant cyborg out to crush him.

I saw “RoboCop 2” when it came out in 1990, and it gave the then 10-year-old me nightmares for weeks. I’m not a scared little bitch anymore, but I still can’t believe how ruthless this movie is. It’s not so much about the violence per se, but about how kids and even babies are thrown into the mix. Here it is, the ROBOCOP 2 DEATH TOLL:

– A carjacker is electrocuted
– The Surgeon General is machine-gunned down
– A gun shop owner is shot by robbers
– Two of the robbers are killed by RoboCop
– RoboCop blows away three dudes cooking NUKE
– One of the drug lords kills an Asian lady
– Officer Lewis (Nancy Allen) shoots one dope-maker
– RoboCop ricochets a bullet in the head of a scumbag holding a gun to a baby’s head
– A guy commits suicide after choosing the wrong communication company
– A RoboCop² prototype kills two scientists
– A crooked cop is dissected alive
– Officer Lewis shoots a Little League coach
– RoboCop shoots a sniper through the scope of his rifle (yeah!)
– RoboCop shoots a gunman with a mustache, one in ugly sunglasses, another with a mullet and some other bastard
– Officer Lewis kills a bad guy in that raid, too
– A drug designer explodes with his lab
– NUKE creator Caine (Tom Noonan) is badly injured after a truck/motorcycle game of chicken, then a hateful bitch takes him off life support, has doctors saw his skull open and puts his brain into RoboCop²
– RoboCop² mows down 2 city councilmen, his old girlfriend Sheila E, the prepubescent drug lord, 9 henchmen, 8 cops and 7 or 8 journalists.
– After a kick ass stop-motion robot-to-robot fight, RoboCop destroys RoboCop²

That’s about 50 onscreen casualties. This isn’t nearly Commando numbers, but it’s pretty brutal nonetheless. The movie is also an amusing satire of corporate greed and political correctness. There’s a silly sequence in which RoboCop is reprogrammed to be a better role model and winds up letting criminals escape while chastising civilians about water waste, bad language and smoking! This isn’t high art, but “RoboCop 2” is funny, action-packed and wrong in all the right ways.

ROBOCOP 3, on the other hand, is pretty damn bad. The idea that OCP is now taking over all of Detroit, evicting people out of their homes to make way for profitable new real estate projects, is promising. RoboCop, unsurprisingly, bypasses his directives and joins a band of “freedom fighters”. Unfortunately, all of them are boring cardboard characters and there’s even an annoying little girl who befriends RoboCop. Worse, most of the action is bloodless and cloying sentimentality mars the film. Oh, and RoboCop gets his wings! I can dig that, and I also dig the evil samurai robots, but these are small drops of cool in a sea of suckage.