Robocop 2

Year: 1990
Production Co: Orion Pictures Corproation
Director: Irvin Kershner
Producer: Jon Davison
Writer: Edward Neumeier/Frank Miller/Walon Green
Cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Belinda Bauer, Tom Noonan, Dan O'Herlihy, Frank Miller, Jeff McCarthy
Call it the Irwin Kershner effect. George Lucas' former teacher did the same thing with The Empire Strikes Back, a movie that took the essential idea of its predecessor and turned everything up to eleven - the special effects, the sci-fi angle, the action and bloodshed and the brilliant subtext of America being the modern Roman Empire, groaning under the weight of its own corruption, mismanagement and the pursuit of the almighty dollar.

Omni Consumer Products (OCP) is still steadily becoming the new corporate overlord of American life, running so much military and civil defence law and order it's almost a de-facto government. Now it's found itself in the position of owning and running the entire city of Detroit if the bankrupt city government defaults on loans.

The government and hilarious mayor have no choice but to collude with the ambitious young entrepreneur who offers to buy them out of trouble using drug money from the designer drug Nuke. OCP will do everything they can to sweep the government out of the way however as it'll give them carte blanche to wipe Detroit clean of the crime, gangs, hookers and filth (which the police - still on strike over unfair conditions offered to them by none other than their new owners, OCP themselves, refuse to lift a finger to clean up the streets) and remake it in their own image.

Meanwhile, Robocop (Weller) and partner Lewis (Allen) still try to fight the good fight, while dangerously ambitious marketing executive Dr Faxx (Bauer) tries to subvert Robocop's success to install her own cyborg in the OCP product line - which looks likely after the widespread failure of the ED-209.

But to stick to the above description doesn't begin to do the movie justice. From Cain (Noonan) the deluded drug lord convinced he's a Christ figure delivering humanity from the ills of the world to the political machinations of government and private enterprise, Kershner manages to pack rollicking, adult-oriented action in to please even the least discerning movie goer.

Like his later effort Starship Troopers, writer Neumeier manages to slide some very clever digs and satire in a beautifully packaged Hollywood action movie. Just look at the round table Faxx hosts with various advocacy and interest groups to reprogram Robocop, resulting in his three prime directives turning into hundreds like 'pool opinions before expressing yourself', 'discourage feelings of negativity and hostility' and 'if you haven't got anything nice to say, don't talk'.

With an early draft by comic book maven Frank Miller which was consequently turned into a comic book series, this is one of the smartest, best sequels in the movies. What a crying shame the 1993 sequel by Fred Dekker would tear the soul of the franchise and grind it into the floor with such a clumsy effort.

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