In “Repo Men,” we find ourselves in a futuristic world where people with failing organs can purchase pricey artificial versions for themselves, instead of having to wait for a transplant surgery. But they better make sure they can pay the bill, because in this future it is OK for their collections department to hunt you down and murder you to repossess their property. Meet the Repo Men.
Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) are best friends that have been through everything together. They were schoolmates growing up, they served in war together, and now they are both repo men. The two work for The Union, the company that invented the technology to make artificial organs possible. Their boss Frank (Liev Schreiber) gets a list of clients who haven’t paid their bills, and sends these two to repossess what is rightfully theirs. Once someone hits 96 days overdue there is no negotiation, no extended payment plans. The repo men simply track them down and close out their account, so-to-speak.
The story is a predictable one, with few twists that can’t be seen coming. Jude Law’s character is a family man, but work has always come first for him. Being a repo man means working long hours, which gives him less time with his family. His wife (Carice van Houten) doesn’t agree with his line of work, and the last straw is when Jake and Remy leave a family barbecue to attend to a “repossession” in the front lawn. Drawing more attention to the event than necessary, she confronts the two of them – while their son Peter (Chandler Canterbury) videotapes the entire thing on his camera phone. She gives Remy an ultimatum – it’s either family or work. So he decides to do the right thing, and trade in his taser for a desk job – but not before one last job. If you’re thinking “this can’t be good,” you are right. Of course it goes terribly, and Remy ends up on life support. In order to save his life, he has no choice but to sign up for The Union’s newest model of artificial hearts. So after receiving a change of heart, the hunter becomes the hunted – and the chase is on.
The premise for the film is an interesting one, as we have seen it once before only a couple of years ago in “Repo! The Genetic Opera.” The concept was interesting back then, but that film didn’t have the budget, script or actors to pull it off. Now in 2010, “Repo Men” has both – which is why it even comes close to working. But take away the cast, and the film falls flat. The production values are top notch, as we are given a very interesting taste of a futuristic world where advertisements cover every square inch of the city. People are obsessed with having the best of everything, including organs, and are willing to do anything to be in style. But at the same time, even though the concept is a bit far-fetched, it is hard to believe that a world exists that would allow a corporation to hunt down it’s clients and kill them if they can’t pay their bills. It is apparant that there is a terrible law enforcement system, as the main characters escape from security and police constantly throughout the movie, but I can’t fathom that in such a futuristic world the government would completely disappear. The visual effects were pretty good during slow moving and close-up scenes, but the CG blood looked terrible during action scenes. I know it is easier to add fake blood in post production, but please go back to using the physical fake stuff if it is going to look that bad.
The beginning of the film starts out with some good action, and you get the movie’s sick sense of humor right away. But after that, the pace slows down tremendously and becomes genuinely uninteresting. By the time you get to the last third of the movie, which is by far the most entertaining, it is too late to save the film that had so much potential. The movie had the right actors, and the right feel, but they tried to make it too serious. If they were going to take such a leap to create this world, they should have gone all out and made it more fun. In the end, what could have been a fun popcorn flick just ends up feeling boring.
Repo Men is a C
Remy is a repo man, a repo man of human organs in this world in the future where a company called, The Union, has a monopoly over the world’s mechanical organ market. The prices are ridiculous, forcing people into high interest loans that if they default on will have their replacement lung, heart, or liver gladly repossessed by an eager repo man like Remy. Remy’s best friend and co-worker Jake is all about the business and when Remy shows some signs of retiring to sales Jake begins to panic about the end of their partnership. Remy’s home life hits an all time low after an on the job accident forces Remy to get a Union heart and his wife and child leave him as he has to keep working repo which his wife desperately wants him to stop. Remy has lost his edge though and soon finds himself on the other side of the repo business.
The film finds a nice balance in its action and humor and while the humor might be a bit cheesy at times it works because it is being delivered by A-List actors. The film is also definitely not for the squeamish as you will see multiple organs disemboweled from degenerate loaners and plenty of other blood when things start to get pretty hairy towards the end for Remy. The action is fresh and doesn’t feel like we have seen this before even when you can tell it is a bit of homage. There is a turning point in the film where things go off the deep end in the third act where it goes completely over the top, which I didn’t have a problem with, but validates it with an interesting turn of events but I am not sure how I feel about that (Sorry for being so vague, don’t want to spoil anything).
The films look is also very slick and creative and director Miguel Sapochnik does a great job with his effects team. His future looks a little to much like Blade Runner to call it original, but they have a lot of cool ideas that they touch on from time to time with the enhancements of the Beth character that they display. Though the technology seems a bit old for such a sophisticated concept at times, especially with how they check in the organs.
The film does have a few issues though, a romance is pretty much forced through and we doubt the believability of these two characters bond. The film drags its feet a bit in the middle and the plotting is just a bit shoddy at times with things moving forward with little logic at times. The film makes up for these down turns with the scenes that work, working really well, and creating a sense of fun again in the picture as it entertains. But if you want to pick the film a part there is plenty to grab at but if you just sit back and enjoy the actors having a good time in this fun film then there is plenty to enjoy.
The actors involve all play their parts extremely well and are definitely in on the nudge and a wink spirit of the picture and at no time takes itself too seriously. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker star as Remy and Jake respectively and the two have a great chemistry and handle the action bits just as well as they handle the humor in the picture. Liev Schreiber is also quite good as the head of The Union and there wasn’t enough of him and his excellent humor in the picture if you ask me. The women in the film are too one dimensionally written and uninteresting to really comment on Alice Braga and Carice van Houten’s work but they have both been better.
In the end, Repo Men is a fun and silly movie that is way over the top but has plenty of entertainment value to be had. The film works when it does thanks to the great work by the three main leads and their ability to sell us on this quite absurd world. The film has plenty of action, humor, and keeps rolling along with only a bump or two in the road that slows it down but it always picks itself back up. Not for the squeamish I think the film is destined to become a cult classic of sorts though it is somewhere between being too conventional and not odd enough to gain a passionate following some other futuristic films have in recent years. With that said, if interested you will probably enjoy the hell out of most of it as the preview is an accurate representation of what you are getting into; if the trailer doesn’t float your boat though don’t expect to be one over by the picture.
Repo Men is a B-