Repo Men

Sunday, March 21, 2010 9:56 AM By Simon

Director: Miguel Sapochnik

Starring: Jude Law, Forrest Whitaker

Synopsis: "In the future humans have extended and improved our lives through highly sophisticated and expensive mechanical organs created by a company called "The Union". The dark side of these medical breakthroughs is that if you don't pay your bill, "The Union" sends its highly skilled repo men to take back its property... with no concern for your comfort or survival. Former soldier Remy is one of the best organ repo men in the business. But when he suffers a cardiac failure on the job, he awakens to find himself fitted with the company's top-of-the-line heart-replacement... as well as a hefty debt. But a side effect of the procedure is that his heart's no longer in the job. When he can't make the payments, The Union sends its toughest enforcer, Remy's former partner Jake, to track him down."

There was a woman in the theatre I went to see Repo Men in. As it would turn out, she thought the movie was about car repossession. The Parental corrected her, and she spent much of the opening credits mulling over whether to duck into another movie, as she didn't think she'd like the gore aspect. This, of course, has nothing to do with anything, but I found it amusing. So.

This movie, for all it's flaws (of many), is much smarter than it's wide release would imply. Not to say that wide release makes a movie stupid, but wide release for a big-budget sci-fi thriller permanantely coated in blue lens cap certainly does not suggest a good track record. That's why I was so surprised by the underlying ideas of the whole thing. In fact, for the first half hour, it was a great social satire.

But then it blew up. I mean literally, it started it's descent into standard sci-fi-thriller territory, and just stopped making sense. Remy, Our Hero, has been sent into a coma by a faulty defib. It requires him to get a heart transplant, courtesy of Eval Slimebag Liev Schreiber, his boss at The Union. Except, of course, despite all the money the dude makes for them, he still gets the 'You owe it to yourself', impossibly inflated bill treatment.

Then, he gets dragged by his partner Jake to a slum I'll call Repo City, because it appears to be a place where all people hopelessly overdue on their payments hide out, and where Repo Men stop by to get extra commissions. Anyway, Jake tells Remy to stay there until he can pay for his bill that month, then he gets beat up by some dude, then wakes up and finds a woman we had previously seen singing in a bar, half-crazy or high or something, but anyway, he brings her to a motel and waits for her to come out of it. According to Wikipedia, she is his former wife, which would explain some things, but...

Look, I'm not going to give you a synopsis detailing all I think is absolutely illogical. But there's a lot. It's like someone decided to cut some flashbacks that were desperately needed.

The performances are absolutely fine. Jude Law gets to keep his accent for once (but it does bring up some questions on how he could've grown up with the American Forest Whitaker), and is perfectly deadpan in his narration (which turns out to be him writing a memoir-type thing on an old keyboard, as seen in the opening, called Repossession Mambo, which was the original name for this book/movie...), but brings nothing but a darkly humorous/anguished face to his character. Forest Whitaker plays madcap slightly better, as where Remy is apathetic about his macabre business, Jake is absolutely gleeful towards it. Alice Braga, as the bar singer/girlfriend with maybe eleven body parts up for repossession, is just fine too, and slightly better than a damsel in distress. Liev Schreiber is a slimy corporate fuck, Carice Van Houten is the cold, if justified, wife of Jude Law, and mother of his son, Nicholas Cage's son from Knowing.

Here, it makes no secret of it's homages to other movies--most notably, Oldboy, in a scene near the end where Remy fights off knife-wielding businessmen down a hallway, complete with a hammer.

This distopian future is summed up in the beginning, with a news broadcast announcing a prepared invasion of Nigera, "--that's in Africa". It's our world, but shinier, shittier, and a bit stupider.

Also of note, holy shit, was this a ripoff of Repo! The Genetic Opera. I mean, really.

It wasn't completely bad, and mixes in bloody knifefights with some interesting ideas on corporations and their invasion, some good satire...but overall, it could've been more coherent.

Oh, shitfaced ending.

PS There are small roles from two castmembers of My Favorite Shows Ever, Ivy from Dollhouse and Shirley from Community. And, naturally, Ivy plays a funny role and Shirley plays a serious one. That's worth the ticket price, I think.


Anonymous said...

You don't understand the ending at all, do you? This film requires a thinking audience. If people are like you, no wonder the film flopped.

March 21, 2010 at 12:00 PM
Simon said...

What is this, IMDB?

March 21, 2010 at 1:46 PM