Repo this film


Repo Men was awful. Graphic, bloody and with a staggering body count, this is all that’s wrong with Hollywood action films, a glossy sheen on a completely vapid, empty story that works against itself in scene after scene. Then, the worst of all is the surprise ending, a twist that’s always frustrated me. I won’t reveal it, but if you do suffer through this dreck, you’ll know exactly why it’s a formulaic ending that’s almost always a death knell.

Repo Men explores a dystopic future where cities look curiously like the brilliantly realized urban landscape of Blade Runner and artificial organs, “artiforgs,” have been perfected and are manufactured by a variety of global companies along with the black market (a la Minority Report). Problem is, these artificial body parts are extraordinarily expensive, so just about everyone opts for a payment plan. Miss a few payments, though, and the repo men show up to reclaim their wares.

Remy ( Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) are repo men working for The Union, one of the companies that sells replacement organs to hapless citizens.

Remy and Jake are top repo men for the company, fast, efficient, and they clearly enjoy their work, which generally involves tasering overdue artiforg holders then brutally slicing them open and ripping out the artificial organ.

The two men have been friends since they were in grade school and still interact as if they’re schoolboys, roughhousing and harassing each other with an almost homoerotic familiarity. Remy’s wife Carol (Carice van Houten) is sick of his unpredictable hours, and gives him an ultimatum: change jobs or she’s outta there.

Remy decides to switch, and on his last repo job the equipment fails and he wakes up in the hospital fitted with a Jarvik-39 artificial heart, made and owned by The Union. In debt, the hunter becomes the hunted, but in a daft story twist, his artificial heart causes him to find his own “heart” and unable to accomplish the occasional repo job.

Carol dumps him, but that’s okay because he quickly connects with lounge singer Beth (Alice Braga) who has all sorts of artificial organs and is way overdue on her payments. It’s not long before the repo men are after the fleeing couple.

Here’s where the film slams into a wall: in the interest of clearing the slate for everyone with overdue organs, Remy wantonly slaughters any and everyone in his way, including scene after scene of graphic and unnecessary murders. If it’s your humanity that’s propelling you to try to help people, wouldn’t you be reticent about killing others?

The film is very well-assembled. The environment is an interesting mix of futuristic and dystopic settings, and there were some aspects that were intriguing: the film opens with the news that the government is about to declare bankruptcy, and there are omnipresent TV screens running news non-stop, including a snippet about the wryly named Operation Hope Springs Eternal about a pending war in Nigeria.

Still, a pretty film with good special effects, nicely choreographed fight scenes and shiny props can’t mask a wreck of a story that has no internal logic and is disgusting, scene after scene, with no ultimate climax that explains what’s happened and leaves the viewer fulfilled. When Ninja Assassin is better, well, you know it’s time to hire better scriptwriters for director Miguel Sapochnik’s next film.