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‘RoboCop 3’ (PG-13)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 05, 1993

Shane in the steel suit is back, but in a sequel as bad as "RoboCop 3," you'll wish he'd return to the past. What started out as an enjoyable cult movie (the 1987 "RoboCop") has become, to quote the old "Saturday Night Live" Sprockets show, tiresome.

The first "RoboCop" was a hoot, a neo-Wagnerian, totalitarian call to clean up the lawless scum of the world. When Detroit cop Peter Weller was gunned down by chortling criminals, parts of his living tissue, including the cerebellum, were enjoined with robotic parts. He became a cyborg lawmaker -- a Terminator with a badge -- who still retained psychological memories of his human past.

But this resurrection fable has gone the way of the acquisitive '80s, Ronald Reagan and the Evil Empire. The fascist-versus-punks stuff is antiquated, and it's not even funny any more.

"Police officer," barks RoboCop, as he approaches the latest gang of vicious killers. "No loitering."

As usual, the Omni Consumer Products people are screwing the people of Detroit. Their "Urban Rehabilitation Officers" are bulldozing the good folks of Cadillac Heights out of their homes, to make space for a town of the future. OCP owns the police and RoboCop (played now by Robert John Burke). So the boys in blue have to watch as citizens are shot, beaten and loaded into relocation trucks.

It's time for action -- and time to draw in the PG-13 crowd. Although he's programmed to comply with the totalitarian status quo, RoboCop's circuits are stirred when he sees 10-year-old gamine and computer whiz Remy Ryan wandering through the ravaged streets.

After OCP authoritarian John Castle fells RoboCop and partner Nancy Allen (hey, they give away her death in the sneak previews), the battered hero is sheltered by a political underground group led by CCH Pounder. Now RoboCop's on the other side of the law. After getting reprogrammed by renegade scientist Jill Hennessey, he becomes RoboRebel, taking on all the firepower and cyborg-ninjas (creations clearly influenced by "Terminator 2") OCP can throw at him.

The movie, which is deadly slow and full of Japanese-bashing, is also an undisguised merchandising promo. At one point, 10-year-old Ryan picks up and clings to a RoboCop doll -- a free copy of which arrived in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago. It has an attachable machine-gun arm and, when you press a button on its stomach, it says "Drugs are trouble," "Hands up" and "Your move, creep." Funnily enough (unless I was asleep longer than I thought), none of those statements occurs in the movie.

If you really want more "RoboCop," rent the video of the first movie. If you go to "RoboCop 3," you'll only have yourself to blame for the fourth installment: "RoboCop 4: More Law Enforcement."

Copyright The Washington Post

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