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‘RoboCop 2’ (R)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
June 22, 1990

Remember the amusing, cartoonishly violent "RoboCop," in which slain police officer Peter Weller was transformed into a cybernetic crime-fighting machine so he could clean up scum-ridden Detroit?

He didn't clean up scum-ridden Detroit. Which is why "RoboCop 2" is here: So our favorite fascist hero, he of the steely blue armor plating and the ceaseless compulsion for law and order, can finish the job. But if you enjoyed the first film, it's a job you'll enjoy going through again.

Everything in the first movie is pretty much redone again. But in this case, the repetition isn't a bad thing. It's par for the coarse. The original had such effortless, classic-trashy appeal, there's little reason to buck the self-made system. It works. It can continue. It does continue.

Times are tough in the Motor City. Real tough: Muggers mug each other, and just about everybody's addicted to Nuke, a narcotic, orange fluid you inject into your neck. Omni Consumer Products is back to its dirty tricks. They've persuaded the cops to strike, so Detroit becomes an unmanageable hellhole. The city, already in hock, will be forced to let Omni take over and turn the place into steel-and-glass towerland unless . . . you know.

Cartoon-strip "novelist" Frank Miller and co-scripter Walon Green have created a predictable, but also enjoyably loose scenario featuring good guys (Weller and erstwhile Robo-partner Nancy Allen) and a lethal dose of nasties, including OCP corporate head Daniel O'Herlihy, sleazy robot-programmer Belinda Bauer, as well as crazed drug lord Tom Noonan and his evil kiddie sidekick Gabriel Damon.

Miller and Green also maintain the Robo-tradition of sardonic humor and amusing Reagan Era-bashing that makes much of the violence satirically palatable. A TV commercial at the beginning (featuring a quick-hit cameo by John Glover) advertises a specially lethal kind of car protection called Magna-Volt. It doesn't rehabilitate so much as execute -- without all that legal, liberal fuss. Later on, a newscaster announces that a nuclear reactor accident has irradiated the Amazon jungle and environmentalists are calling this a disaster. "But don't they always," pipes in the other newscaster with an "Entertainment Tonight" smile.

Unfortunately, the fun quotient gives way almost completely to the titanic-clash quotient, as RoboCop takes on, yes, RoboCop 2, another OCP-created machine programmed to destroy him. But director Irvin Kershner, who helmed "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Never Say Never Again," does as good a supervisory job as this repeat project warrants. Essentially he's running a team of technos; those animation sequences, as special-effected by Phil Tippett, Rob Bottin, Peter Kuran and others, are extremely well-done. Robotic assault and battery, however, is definitely included.

Copyright The Washington Post

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