RoboCop 2 (1990) Directed by Irvin Kershner. With Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’ Herlihy and Belinda Bauer.
With Frank Miller co-writing story and screenplay, and Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner in the hot-seat, you might be forgiven for having greater expectations of this sequel to Paul Verhoeven’s popular predecessor. It comes as a surprise then that Robocop 2 invests more time being a note-for-note rendition of the original than developing new strands left over from the previous film.
Early on, it shows promise of depth as we see Murphy/RoboCop still haunted by old memories while stalking his traumatised, widowed wife. Unfortunately, the film abruptly abandons exploring this idea and instead shifts its focus to straight-up corruption and street crime as the megalomaniacal company, Omni Consumer Products (OCP) attempts once again to create its own robo-cop with predictably poor results. Dan O’Herlihy returns for more fun as the ‘old man’ and his new assistant Dr Faxx (Belinda Bauer) adds some pleasingly wicked charm but there’s often a lack of impetus and a sense of going through the motions.
As ‘Robo’, Peter Weller gets the chance to indulge comedy when his programming is temporarily sabotaged, prompting him to behave erratically which is fun for a few scenes. Just like in the Verhoeven original, we’re treated to a collection of amusing infomercials that act as welcome relief inbetween the gunfire and mayhem. It’s after this that things start to really hit the skids. It isn’t that RoboCop 2 is a bad film, it’s just disappointing that it isn’t brave enough to separate from the formula of the original. Director Irvin Kershner did the seemingly impossible with Empire Strikes Back, in as much as he made a film that used much-loved characters from a celebrated film and set them off on a new adventure that enriched what came before – without resorting to mimicry. RoboCop 2 chooses to go down the route of mimicry being the most sincere form of flattery, but for cinema audiences, that usually just spells dull. 2.5/5