Reviewed by Nomad
Starring Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, RZA, Alice Braga, Carice van Houten
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik
You’ve no doubt seen the six billion commercials, yes? It’s a future not so far away. You may be a chronic boozer whose body is throwing in the towel, but have no fear. The Union is here to save you! For the low, low price of 700k, you can get a state-of-the-art liver that will work better than that meaty one ever did. Miss some payments? No worries. The caring repo men of the Union will come to YOU and reclaim their property at no further cost to your family … except for the funeral expense of course. It’s a brand new day!
Remy (Law) is the best in the business, slicing and dicing as if he was born to do it. With a best friend like Jake (Whitaker), who may be even more ruthless, any monstrous act can be justified as “just part of the job.” Suddenly, a twist of fate leaves Remy flat on his back in a hospital with a shiny new heart humming away in his chest. The accident has altered his way of thinking, leaving him unable to bring down the knife and make money to pay off his new debt. Now the clock is ticking on his life, and it seems likely the Union will send their second best repo man to collect … and that man is Jake.
Though the theme of Repo Men is fairly Shakespearean, it’s the only thing about this movie that is even remotely poetic! This is one mean movie with a nasty sense of humor that will have you constantly laughing for all the wrong reasons. Remy slices into a body with the casual ease of a computer tech popping open the back of a computer to swap out a hard drive. Jake uses a little less finesse. When the two are together, carnage is an art form. Now add Frank (Shreiber) and Beth (Braga) to the mix, and the dynamic flips around a bit.
Both characters are unrepentant in similar ways. Frank is a company man through and through. He believes no one deserves a break when company money is on the line and will sweet talk a family out of their life’s savings without a second thought. This embodies Remy’s old life. Beth is that woman who never gets a fair shake. Tragedy has forced her to replace parts of her body, and opportunity coaxes her to replace others. Through it all, a drug that stains her teeth red keeps the pain at bay. Now she is a shell of a human being, wondering where her life went and in some small way still hoping for salvation. When Remy finds himself at the bottom of the food chain, the two find each other and make for strange, savage bedfellows. Now Remy must live so that Beth might get clear of the relentless pursuit of The Union repo dogs. Through Beth he might find salvation himself. Though at different ends of the spectrum, both Beth and Frank are remorseless in their actions … both having done questionable things to continue in their chosen lifestyle and ready to kill in order to continue living.
It’s clear that Remy and Beth are meant to be the heroes of this film, but realistically, we are talking about two people who are looking to cheat the system, no matter how corrupt that system is. They are the good guys by default. Hell, Remy might still be hacking up targets were it not for his little “accident”!
Remy and Jake are professional killers above all else. This is where they excel. Frank may not get his hands as dirty in a physical sense, but he is even more evil than the pair. Beth just sort of rolls with it all and may seem like the woman in peril, but she is far from helpless and will kill if backed into a corner. Make no mistake; this is a movie about bad people in a ruthless world. It becomes a matter of whom you find most appealing. Jude Law has a lot to say about that, performing bloody acts with the style of a jazz musician. Pair him with a lovable bully who was always made to indulge in his violent demeanor, and you’ve got movie magic. You may have never thought you’d see Law and Whitaker in a movie together, but after Repo Men, you’ll be screaming for more! I also need to mention Frank, who embodies the type of despicable bad guy you’ll love to watch and wait for the moment when he might see justice. Frank IS The Union. You couldn’t ask for a better antagonist.
The filmmakers create a sort of soundtrack for Remy, filled with intense but smooth music that propels you through the action, heightening apprehension, intensifying those breathless moments before insane action, and even creating a comical mood in counterpoint to unflinching gore. Repo Men can be slick and sexy when it should be drenched with blood and difficult to watch. You could argue that this is a lost art. Through the stylistic scenes and gritty canvas of Repo Men, there is one thing that remains constant. The situations and characters remain very real. Sure, it isn’t very likely that the government would allow a company to sell body parts to people at a price higher than the cost of two houses, but this premise is easily accepted as good sci-fi fare. It’s the people that made the film. The pack of slightly overweight and unkempt men and women who choose the lifestyle of Repo Men. The back alley dealers who keep the populace swimming in designer drugs and stitched up with black market body parts. It’s the details that make all the difference, and Repo Men leaves no moment untouched by the eye of an artist.
Not since Darkman can I recall watching a movie so vicious and blood-soaked as to still be called horror tied together with the blackest sense of humor and jam-packed with enough action to make Arnold Schwarzenegger stand up and cheer. Repo Men has the attitude of A Clockwork Orange with the action of Total Recall. It’s dark, gritty, hysterically funny, and MEAN. Grab your friends and catch this one on the big screen while you can!
4 out of 5
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