In a futuristic world, an organization called The Union has created highly developed and high priced mechanical organs. These organs can be purchased by anyone and if you’re unable to pay the incredibly steep full price (usually somewhere in the hundreds of thousands), you can make monthly payments. The catch is that after 96 days of The Union not receiving payment, they send repo men to retrieve whatever organ(s) are currently keeping you alive without any concern of you surviving the procedure. This is where Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) come in. Two best friends who happened to be the best repo men in the business. Jake is a bit more careless than Remy, so Remy is basically looked at as the best man for the job. That is until a faulty defibrillator sends Jake into cardiac arrest and he wakes up with the latest heart replacement in his chest. Now with a hefty debt on his hands, Remy struggles with trying to find a way to take himself out of the system and the fact that he’s now being hunted by his best friend and former partner. The film is based on the novel The Repossession Mambo written by screenwriter Eric Garcia in 2003 and published in 2009.
Repo Men seems to take the only thing I liked about Repo: The Genetic Opera (which was the concept of someone’s organs being repossessed) and making it into a full-length film. Repo: The Genetic Opera was pretty terrible overall with a few moments of brilliance and it looked like Repo Men hoped to capitalize on that. I really like the concept, but it just seems like it’s never been executed properly. After seeing this film, odds are that theory won’t be put to rest.
Jude Law and Forest Whitaker are easily the best part of the film. I’ve heard some people say that Law doesn’t fit this role, but it seems to be the other way around. Law makes this role fit him. This is his story and he makes it worth sitting through. Whitaker shines during the scenes where he struggles with doing his job and helping his best friend. I’m not familiar with a lot of Whitaker’s work, but he’s one of those actors where his eyes tell the story better than his body language does.
The over the top gore seems to be a big issue for a lot of people. As a horror aficionado, it didn’t bother me much. In fact, it made me feel right at home. The gory scenes are the most memorable scenes in the film. The hallway scene in front of the pink door is easily my favorite. It may be because it reminds me of the far superior yet similar hallway sequence in Oldboy. And despite the theater not being very full, the film received a pretty big reaction during the film. The gore scenes, especially. People were applauding the pink door scene. So even if blood and gore may not be your thing, if you see this film, they’ll probably be what you remember most when you’re walking out of the theater.
The film has a pretty fantastic ending. In fact, it felt like the action thriller had a fairly strong beginning and ending with a rather mediocre middle. Certain things about the story bothered me. After Remy gets his heart transplant, he can’t find it within himself to be a repo man anymore. Even though it’s “just another job,” all he can think about is the fact the person he’s cutting open has a family. It leads one to believe that he can’t kill anymore. Then later on, it shows him killing other repo men that work for The Union. Do they not have families, too? Could he kill these men because he knows the ins and outs of the job they perform everyday? There were several other similar inconsistencies throughout the film that stuck out like that (anyone else notice “Repossession Mambo” was misspelled in Remy’s first draft of his novel?).
Repo Men should have been one of my favorite films of the year, at least thus far. I love the idea of repo men repossessing organ transplants people can’t pay for a little too much. That idea and two strong male leads should have made this film stellar. Other than the excessive gore (which I loved) and the questionable parts of the storyline, it’s hard for me to pinpoint what exactly about the film didn’t sit well with me. The film reminded me a bit of films like The Transporter and Underworld. Not so much in content, but in the sense that they were films that contained elements of things that I love but just weren’t executed properly. I don’t really think Repo Men is an awful film or as bad as all these ratings from top critics are making the film out to be. It’s still worth seeing, but it just doesn’t live up to expectations and is a bit disappointing.
Theatrical Release Date: March 19, 2010
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Genre: action, thriller
Runtime: 111 min
Cast: Jude Law as Remy
Forest Whitaker as Jake
Alice Braga as Beth
Liev Schreiber as Frank
RZA as T-Bone
MPAA: Rated R for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language, and some sexuality/nudity
Overall Rating: 6.5/10
Be sure to check out my article on the experience at the AMC Studio 30 on Dunvale Rd here in Houston right here. Below you’ll find local theater listings, showtimes, and the restricted trailer for Repo Men (which does contain R-rated content).
Sources: imdb.com, comingsoon.net, wikipedia.org, empiremovies.com