It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"RoboCop 2" is a bizarre mixture of violence and humor. It's a film with a split personality, giving us gruesome scenes and then moving on as if they didn't really mean anything. This is a movie where one scene features a tycoon announcing plans to "take Detroit private," and another scene has RoboCop snatching the brains of his enemy out of their artificial skull and pounding them into the pavement. The movie's technique is to alternate the laughs and the gore, so that right after the brains get smashed, there's a line of funny dialogue.
Apart from anything else, the very idea of RoboCop is funny: There's a human tendency to be amused by anything that seems to be intelligent but is actually governed by laws of behavior it doesn't understand. That's why we like plastic teeth that chatter when we wind them up, and stupid pet tricks. RoboCop is a creature like that: An incredibly expensive, complicated piece of machinery and computer circuits that stomps around Detroit making all of the wrong decisions.
The story this time begins at a moment when Detroit is in even worse shape than it was at the end of the last movie. There's a citywide police strike, in protest of pay cuts masterminded by the evil Omni Consumer Products conglomerate, a giant corporation that wants to replace cops with RoboCops and take over Detroit in the process. OCP is run by the Old Man (Daniel O'Herlihy), a tycoon whose vision would make Mike Milliken envious: He'll force the city into bankruptcy, take it over at a bargain price, and strip it of its assets.
This plot doesn't really have much to do with the central confrontation in "RoboCop 2," which is between Cain (Tom Noonan), the inventor of a popular new drug, and the forces of justice as represented by RoboCop (Peter Weller). Cain's sidekicks include a violent, foul-mouthed young boy (Gabriel Damon), who looks to be about 12 years old but kills people without remorse, swears like Eddie Murphy, and eventually takes over the drug business. I hesitate to suggest the vicious little tyke has been shoehorned into this R-rated movie so that the kiddies will have someone to identify with when they see it on video, but stranger things have happened.