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  RoboCop 2 Rage Against The Machine
Year: 1990
Director: Irvin Kershner
Stars: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy, Belinda Bauer, Tom Noonan, Gabriel Damon, Willard E. Pugh, Robert DoQui, Phil Rubenstein, Galyn Görg, Tzi Ma, Wanda De Jesus, Roger Aaron Brown, Gary Bullock, Felton Perry, John Glover, Patricia Charbonneau
Genre: Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: It's safe to say that Detroit has its problems, what with the crime rate spiralling out of control thanks to the police force going on strike for more pay and any pension whatsoever, and a new drug called nuke which has hit the streets as one of the most addictive narcotics ever created. Thus should you venture downtown, it's likely you will be mugged, beaten up or even murdered: the place is like a warzone. There is some law enforcement, however, and one example of that is RoboCop (Peter Weller), who as OCP corporation hardware has no choice but to blow the bad guys away...

Which he did an awful lot of without so much as a pang of conscience in this, the sequel to the cult megahit RoboCop from three years eariler. It had, by all reports, been rushed into production after securing a script from comics legend Frank Miller, only to find it was unusable and a salvage job was conducted to manufacture something they could work with: certainly some of Miller's libertarian style remained, but mainly this made the mistake of thinking it was the violence and nothing but which had made the original the success it was, when it was actually its refusal to pander to the usual action movie stupidity usually lapped up without so much thought which marked it out as a classic.

Sure, they delivered the action, but there was a strong degree of caustic satire and a searing intelligence which its fans responded to. On the other hand, its sequel brought Irvin Kershner out of retirement to take part in a bloodthirsty, graceless hail of bullets which made nods to the humour which should have deepened its theorising, but here was as facetious as the rest of it. Yes, there was plenty of things going boom and bad guys getting shot, but there were an awful lot of good guys getting shot as well, and a conservative view infected the harshness of Paul Verhoeven's aggressively liberal stylings, so that yet again, we were faced with an action flick from the eighties and nineties where drugs were bad.

Not that anyone in Hollywood ever used drugs, I mean can you imagine such a thing? It's unheard of, and therefore they were in the perfect position to lecture the audience on how they should bever get addicted to, er, nuke, which could be standing in for anything from heroin to cocaine to PCP, frustratingly nonspecific if they were genuine about relaying the establishment message. Which seemed to be, don't bother with the boring old legal process when a gun is all the justice you need, a point employed for unfunny laughs when RoboCop (who's hardly in this otherwise) is reprogrammed for being too reasonable and made into a lily-livered bleeding heart, to let us know that actual understanding and constructive methods are for saps.

As the brutality was upped you could just about get away with watching RoboCop 2 for sheer spectacle, but that wouldn't take away an essentially fascist approach to plotting which the source had sent up mercilessly: imagine if Kershner's The Empire Strikes Back had done a volte face and made the Empire the good guys and you had some idea of the muddled ideology here. But with such scenes as the failed RoboCop replacements committing suicide or a child gangster made to watch a man being dissected against his will, the sense of filmmakers seeing how far they could go with being offensive, freed by the demands of science fiction which they would have trouble getting away with in a non-fantastical world, does move the mood more transgressively than it might otherwise have been. It's just that it moves in completely the wrong direction, spreading hate for its own sake because that's what supposedly makes you strong in this landscape of the future. Good stop motion effects, mind you. Music by Leonard Rosenman (which actually goes "RoboCop! RoboCop!").
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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