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Repo Men (2010) **

March 24, 2010

 

 

 

written by: Eric Garcia & Garrett Lerner

produced by: Scott Stuber

directed by: Miguel Sapochnik

rated R (for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language and some sexuality/nudity)

111 min.

U.S. release date: March 19, 2010

“Repo Men” is in no way a sequel to the cult classic film, “Repo Man” starring Emilio Estevez (although that would be a great comeback!) nor is it related to a film with a similar concept, “Repo Man: The Genetic Opera” (although some would argue the opposite!), starring Paris Hilton. Already in this review, we have Emilio Estevez and Paris Hilton referenced (something I never would have imagined writing), what could stop you from continuing to read on? If all this film has in common is some repossession, then what’s it all about?

  The film takes place in the near future where people with failing organs find that hope in the future has a price. Through a company called The Union, they can buy artificial replacement organs that are so outrageously expensive (upwards of $650,000 for a pancreas!) they require a complicated installment plan. But, who cares? “You owe it to your family,” the salesmen say, “You owe it to yourself.” Once a client fails to make their payments after a 90-day grace period, the company sends their top enforcers to repossess the organs. Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) happen to be the best Repo Men in their field, piling up loads of organs at the end of the day. They’ve been friends since the fourth grade but you get the feeling that Remy is on to something that the audience soon becomes aware of, that he’d be better off without the over-bearing and volatile Jake around.      

 

It doesn’t take long for everything to unravel for this merry duo. Knowing the toll his job has on his relationship with his wife (Carice van Houten) and their young son Peter (Chandler Chanterbury), he attempts to transfer to a sales position. The persuasive Jake though isn’t having it and their boss, (Liev Schreiber) wants to keep the two of them doing just what they’re doing. He even suggests they branch out on their own and go into business for themselves, promising to hire them out. Sounds great to Jake but Remy can’t see it and follows through with his transfer request, promising to do one final gig.

Now, we know that in movies, “one last job” means something wrong is about to down.The script to plummets into the obvious as Remy’s past due notice turns into a final notice and he’s hunted down ala Tom Cruise in “Minority Report”.  This final gig results in Remy finding himself in a hospital bed with a new heart in his chest. Guess where that came from? The forced irony of a guy “finding his heart” only after getting a transplant is like hammering the viewer over the head with the utensils used for such a procedure. Remy soon hooks up with Beth (Alice Braga), a homeless lounge singer, herself past due riddled with artificial parts.  For reasons unexplained, he falls for her at first sight. In no time, they fight and kiss but there’s no time for love when you’re running with wanted organs. Wait, more forced irony….he’s helping someone who he would have hunted down….I get it!

It’s unfortunate Remy doesn’t get any special discount or employee special. It’s also unfortunate that this is all in the trailer. Which is sad because a.) I’m not giving anything away if you’ve seen the trailer and b.) so many studios stuff their trailers with all the good scenes. Wait; there is one oddly funny scene in which we see a nine year-old giving a grown woman a total knee replacement as her approving mother looks on. That was humorous, uncomfortable and interesting which what was lacking in the rest of the movie.

Director Miguel Sapochnik is under the impression that gratuitous carnage and bloodletting is in demand, forgetting that less is more. It should’ve been either more deranged or more intelligent instead it just sits on the fence of mediocrity. Though the film was made three years ago, it’s stance on healthcare couldn’t be more timely. Perhaps that is why it was hard for me to laugh at it. It’s also hard to enjoy a film when the script is vaguely all over the place, leaving you with question after question. How are these parts made? Is this the only company manufacturing such organs? Who trains these Repo Men? In the hands of someone like Paul Verhoeven or Ridley Scott, we might have received answers to such questions. Instead, Sapochnik carries on with weapons in hand and blood splaying all over the screen, not thinking that we might want to know more about this world.  

    

For a movie that has organs being spliced and inserted left and right, it just doesn’t seem to have a heart attached to its head. It’s hard enough to care about someone whose job it is to dissect and bag organs from someone who still needs that organ to survive, but this story gives us very thin connective tissue, if any.  It’s never clear if Remy and his wife were ever really in love, so why should we care when she leaves? I found myself applauding her probably because there’s no one in this film to care for! The characters are either paper thin or conventionally stereotyped. Even if it’s a fun stock character like Schreiber’s villain where it’s obvious he’s having fun, he’s still not given enough to make him interesting which makes him….uninteresting.

Considering all that this film lacks, it doesn’t entirely flat-line. The visual look and overall tone is well done, even if the homage to films like “Brazil”, “Blade Runner” and “Total Recall” are apparent. The action is fine, somewhat over-choreographed at times but the blunt and bloody fight scenes hit their mark all too well. Still, since I found myself wanting to know more about the story or the characters and the world they inhabit, the impact of these visual elements suffered. It’s one of those films you might stop on if it shows up on cable.

Essentially, “Repo Men” tries to be too many things at the same time while never really excelling 100% in anything. There’s dark comedy and some bloody action in this thriller but rarely is it thrilling. If you already know about the film and have been anticipating seeing the main protagonist physically reclaim organs, than nothing anyone says will keep you from going to the theater. While there are worse films out there you can waste your hard-earned cash on, I’m not gonna recommend you run out to subject yourself to it.  Sapochnik tries to cover what the film lacks with style and humor but after the first forty-five minutes that’s near impossible. That’s too bad since it could have been a thought-provoking and intelligent film. Instead, it’s just provoking.

 

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2010 8:32 am

    Not to mention that awful ripoffs from Chan-wook Park’s “Oldboy” with the hammer in the hallway scene. Ugh.

    • David J. Fowlie permalink*
      March 24, 2010 8:54 am

      Right. It’s brief but yeah….hey, by then I had looked at my watch about 3x! The funny part was he was fighting all these corporate suits that seemed more lethal then the Repo Men….kinda unsurprising if ya think about it.

  2. windi permalink
    March 25, 2010 6:13 pm

    Can I say that despite your bad review, I’m still looking forward to seeing this? LOL I knew when I saw the previews that it wasn’t going to be a classic, but I was hoping for some good old fashioned fun with a twist–you know ‘the set in the future repossessing organs’ twist.

    I hope I don’t regret going to see it. Matt saw it last week and he really liked it. He said it wasn’t very original, but still was good enough to see on the big screen…

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