Viking Night: Robocop 2
By Bruce Hall
April 19, 2017
What young man in the 1980s didn’t want to grow up to be RoboCop, perhaps not realizing that it would first require being brutally murdered? You can count me as one of those intellectually shortsighted people, I guess. RoboCop was an important figure in the lives of countless deeply introverted teen boys back in the summer of 1987. I was no exception.
RoboCop was my new hero, and he didn’t wear his underwear on the outside like some of the guys he replaced. Instead of looking like a lost member of the Village People, RoboCop was the gleaming god of face punching, neck snapping, city block-exploding justice. So, when a sequel was released in 1990, I was down with it. Had you offered me a golden Ferrari that both ran on AND dispensed champagne, I’d have simply had no time for you. RoboCop 2 was a moral imperative, and had wolves attacked me on the way to the theater, I’d have shown up at the theater with a pet wolf.
Nothing was going to keep me from this movie. What can I say? I was young. Those were my priorities.
Sadly, things did not go as expected. I trust you are already aware of RoboCop 2’s reputation as a murderer of childhoods. And if you’re not, please believe me when I say that this movie disappointed me in the same way I’d disappoint the world if I ever got my hands on that magical Ferrari. So why include RoboCop 2 in the same rarefied air as the original? Why bother adding it to the hallowed pantheon of cinematic excellence that is the Viking Night film vault?
The answer is that for exactly half its running time, RoboCop 2 is nearly - not quite, but nearly - as good as the original. And then, as if someone threw a switch, it aggressively becomes the opposite of that.
And that is worth talking about.
Initially, RoboCop 2 gamely mimics the grim, satirical tone of the original. This is a world where anyone lacking a conscience can purchase a rifle capable of exploding cars. Hookers will stab you in the face for a half-eaten cheeseburger. And, the police are on strike. Thanks to all this, and a new super drug called Nuke, near-future Detroit remains a bleak, crime-ridden hellscape. Without police, the government has failed to confront the Nuke problem, prompting the corporate sleazebags at Omni Consumer Products to step in. Because something-something evil, they have Detroit’s mayor (Willard E Pugh, whose performance makes Chris Tucker look like Sidney Poitier) over a financial barrel, and are calling in all their loans to the City.