THE SETTING is futuristic Detroit. Omni Consumer Products has demanded payment on the $37 million debt owed by the city. Otherwise, OCP will foreclose and own the entire metropolis. The police force is on strike. A criminal named Cain and his new narcotic, "Nuke," have hit the streets.
Who can save the people, do away with Cain and restore order to the Motor City?
No, not Dick Tracy. RoboCop, of course.
In "RoboCop 2," the sequel to Paul Verhoeven's "RoboCop," director Irvin Kershner does a commendable job piecing together all the gimmicks from the brilliant original, and even on its own, "RoboCop 2" is pretty good.
Ambitious Dr. Julliet Faxx (Belinda Bauer) wants OCP to try her new cyborg (a machine with some living tissue), made with unwilling brain donor Cain. So in addition to garden-variety crime, RoboCop must face his evil "tin" brother. (Cain and Abel, get it?)
The wishy-washy story line is saved by some very funny Schwarzenegger-esque one-liners and a few clever twists, like the Nuke-pushing Cain (Tom Noonan) worshiping Oliver North's legacy and keeping Elvis Presley's rotting corpse encased in glass.
Peter Weller returns as Officer Murphy, the chivalrous RoboCop. Weller's sensitivity makes RoboCop almost sexy. He's a courteous kind of cyborg who pauses in the middle of a Nuke-factory shootout to say calmly, "Ladies, please stay down."
The futuristic concepts in the film are alternately funny and frightening. Detroit fate is typified by a mugger who robs an old woman and is then mugged himself by two prostitutes.
Writer Frank Miller has created some bizarrely interesting characters for the sequel, such as Cain's 12-year-old hit man (Gabriel Damon), who shoots first and aims later. Willard Pugh is amusing as Detroit's frazzled Mayor Kuzak, unwittingly signing away the whole city as collateral. Nancy Allen also returns as RoboCop's faithful partner, Anne Lewis.
Though not as good as "RoboCop," the sequel is great action-adventure entertainment, complete with graphic violence, blood, fights and special effects.
Oscar nominee Rob Bottin ("Legend") creates a spectacular stop-action animation sequence of RoboCop battling the new-and-not-so-improved cyborg Cain.
Although the visuals are stunning, by the time the fight breaks out the plot has unfolded like an old Japanese Rodan vs. Godzilla movie: It takes 90 minutes to set up the conflict and two minutes for the battle.
And there is still a void.
What's really missing is Paul Verhoeven, who was busy directing "Total Recall" with Arnold Schwarzenegger. "RoboCop 2" compares with the original the way someone else's "Total Recall 2" will compare with "Recall 1."
Verhoeven's original film grabs you and takes you along for the ride. In the sequel, you're never more than a spectator.
"RoboCop 2" probably won't disappoint anyone who loved "RoboCop" -- that's whom it was designed for. So if you just have a yen for a "RoboCop" snack, the sequel will satisfy the craving.
But an hour later you may still be hungry for a full-course Verhoeven.
Rated R, at the Maple Ridge, Market Arcade, Thruway and Summit Mall theaters.