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Old 03-24-2010, 04:18 PM
Miguel Sapochnik's Repo Men

Here's the link to the published version of the review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:

Repo Men (2010)

"Repo Men" is best described as "Repo! The Genetic Opera" meets "Minority Report." Never heard of that first film? Don't feel bad. It didn't make much of a splash when it came out and was a terrible film to boot. Anyways, it just goes to show that "Repo Men" didn't have much originality to begin with despite where it was getting its source material from, which in this case, was the book "Repossession Mambo" by Eric Garcia.

The story takes place sometime in the not-too-distant future where a corporation known as "The Union" has developed artificial organs that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. This would seem like a great, life-saving discovery. However, there is a catch. Just like if you can't make payments on your car or house, if you can't pay for your organ, a repo man comes calling to reclaim the property.

Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) are two of these repo men making a decent living off their work. Remy's wife, Carol (Carice van Houten), keeps urging him to get out of the repo business and into sales which would give him fewer hours and more time to spend at home. Remy decides to do one more job before making the switch, but as he's trying to stop a client's heart, an accident occurs which fries his own, causing him to need a new one, so, of course, an artificial one is put in.

Suddenly, Remy sees his job in a new light and he finds himself not being able to cut up people like he did before. Unfortunately, if he doesn't do his job, he doesn't get paid, making him fall behind on payments for his heart. Pretty soon "The Union" sends out men looking for him.

This film seemed very confused with itself. One moment, it's trying to gross out the audience by having an organ carved out of someone, the next it's trying to make us laugh at its silliness. We also get a bizarre love story in the middle that never really ends up anywhere. This continual tonal shift makes it look like the filmmakers just weren't sure what to do with their own material.

The actors do what they can with their roles. Jude Law pretty much plays Remy as a low-key kind of guy, satisfied with his job until he gets his wake-up call. He's the kind of character that we have to wait for to realize that what he's doing is wrong. Forest Whitaker continues to expand into different roles which he did recently with "Our Family Wedding." He makes an interesting pursuer (did you have any doubt that he'd be the one chasing Law?)

The believability of "Repo Men" gets strained a few times, not only in the fact that nothing like this would ever be allowed to happen, but also in how some of these procedures are done. Now, it's understandable that the people who are having their organs repossessed would probably die, despite the fact that the repo men are required to ask if the client would like an ambulance standing by, a requirement that they don't seem to take too seriously.

However, when it comes to where one of the characters, Beth (Alice Braga), Remy's love interest and another victim of "The Union," has gotten her organs put in (a black market surgeon), it is not exactly believable due to the fact that if she had gotten her operations done there, she would have died of infection many times over.

It's not all bad though. Some of it is entertaining. We get the obligatory third act where they must charge on into headquarters and attempt to get themselves out of the system. This involves a long fight in a hallway that felt like it was trying to pay homage to the famous hallway fight in "Oldboy," but it is unnecessarily stretched out and a lot less stylish. This all leads up to the ending where the filmmakers completely dropped the ball. I won't go into any detail, but it turns out to be a slap in the face to the audience.

Although it's an interesting premise, its lack of originality gives away where much of the film is going to go, that is, right up until you get to the unexpectedly bad ending. It's a rare thing to have to say that a completely contrived and clichéd ending would have worked a lot better than what they went with, but there you have it. 2.5/4 stars.
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