BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JULY 30, 2010
“Repo Men” is “Repo! The Genetic Opera” minus the opera… Jude Law and Forest Whitaker enter the world of repossession, but instead of repossessing cars or furniture, they are living in the future of 2025, where repo men cut out your organs for defaulting on loan payments.
The graphics of “Repo Men” is “Terminator: Salvation” meets “Hostel.” Each repossession involves a sequence of stalking, incapacitating, and eventually reclaiming artificial technology keeping people alive. In a
“Minority Report” style world, the skills of malicious repo men like Jude Law & Forest Whittaker are enhanced by knives used to cut open flesh in broad daylight in the back of a taxi cab, tasers for shooting through the backs of people’s skulls, along with more gore than Quintin Tarantino or Eli Roth could shake a bloody nub at.
“Repo Men” revolves around a world where heartless corporate America sells the average American the American dream. In this era’s case, the American dream is another shot at life, all thanks to artificial limbs, organs, joints, etc. Any feature on a human being that could go haywire, The Union has an artificial replacement for. However, fail to pay within 60 days of your bill and the repo men will come for you and your organs. Do not expect to get out alive. They are required to ask if you would like E.M.T. assistance following the mock operation but do not be reassured, as most of their “patients” (or victims) do not survive.
But wait! What happens when one of the Union’s repo men needs an artificial organ? Remy (Jude Law) is that repo man. Remy is one of the best repo men in the business. By turning murder into a game with his partner Jake (Forest Whittaker), the two make a killing in the business of repossession. After his wife catches a repossession occurring in their front yard during a cookout while their son records on his phone, Remy’s wife puts her foot down. As Remy looks to reconcile with his wife by quitting the cold-blooded killer lifestyle, Jake insists that Remy keep the team together. On his last repossession, a botched defibrillator puts Remy in the hospital… with a new heart, courtesy of the Union.
All would be well for Remy had he not lost his killer instinct following the heart transplant. Reluctantly, Remy tries to carry on his repo man lifestyle, but to no avail and soon his 60 days are up. The rest of the film revolves around Remy’s assimilation to the lifestyle of the hunted as he protects Beth (Alice Braga), a woman with almost everybody part replaced and goes head to head with the Union as well as his lifelong friend, Jake.
The showdown between Remy and Jake is the centerpiece of the film. Having built their close companionship throughout the entire film, the emotional turmoil that ensues between them is excellent. Forest Whittaker gets a shot at being the bad guy for once, a role he is not too often afforded but silences any naysayers.
The shortcomings of the film are extensive. The ending is a cop-out, plain and simple. Though some meaning exists, ultimately, the twist ending is unoriginal. That said, the “wrapped with a bow” ending they try to sell you before the twist is even more lackluster (minus the digging through human flesh to find barcodes to scan portion, which, though gross, is original…I guess).
“Repo Men,” though unoriginal in the script and ending, is still superior to the negative hype surrounding the film. For those that do not care for the opera, “Repo Men” takes a dramatic approach not allowed by “Repo! The Genetic Opera.” With a surprise (and extremely appreciated) appearance by John Leguizamo, the cast is successfully well rounded, with Jude Law delivering believability and grace alongside Forest Whittaker who appears fresh and unique as the resident bad guy. In following with the last year of future-obsessed films like “Daybreakers,” “Terminator Salvation,” and “The Book of Eli,” “Repo Men” takes another stab at a growing landscape of genre films and, for the most part, genuinely succeeds.
March 19, 2010
“The Repossession Mambo”
by Eric Garcia
(for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language and some sexuality/nudity)
Carice van Houten
Yvette Nicole Brown