Even shorn of the vision and craft so capably provided by Paul Verhoeven, and somehow ending up looking half as expensive as the twice as cheap 1987 original, Irvin Kershner’s film is still thrice the film Jose Padilha’s 2014 remake is.
This is largely due to the fact that, inelegance notwithstanding, the film sticks closely to the path of the initial movie, with satirical media commentary, shady political maneuverings, lashings of ultra-violence and stop-motion boss battles intact.
Peter Weller and Nancy Allen reprise their roles as Murphy and Lewis – not so much underwritten as underexposed (the story seems far more interested in Tom Noonan’s drug-pusher Cain than its leads), and there’s an admirable yet feebly executed and unresolved attempt to build on Robo’s emerging humanity which has the cyborg meeting Murphy’s wife, only featured as cybernetic memories in the first film.
Ultimately Robocop 2 suffers from diluting the inky black cultural irony Verhoeven established three years prior, and from too lethargic a pace and energy, but it’s still a heck of a lot more faithful to the elements that inspire such fervered loyalty in what are seen as untouchable, pedestal-placed first-outings. As such, its narrative clunkiness, wonky sequencing, and underwhelming effects still brim with a kind of shabby pride when compared with the sterile and clean lines of its glossy descendant.
Words: Ash Verjee