Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Repo Men- What's New In You?

Last night Word-of-the-Day Jennie and I went to an advanced screening of "Repo Men" courtesy of Red Carpet Crash (thanks for the tix!). The event was also sponsored by Gordon and the Whale (Hi! I've never heard of your entertainment site, but I'm surfing it now. It looks pretty awesome- lots of reviews and give aways). The screening was at Studio Movie Grill (Positive: beer. Negative: lots of people talking and walking around).

If you haven't seen the trailers, "Repo Men" (not to be confused with Alex Cox's amazing cult classic "Repo Man" or the rock opera "Repo! The Genetic Opera") stars Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, and Alice Braga. Remy (Law) is best friends with Jake (Whitaker) and both work for The Union repossessing artificial organs (artiforgs) from those who've fallen behind on payments. With the cost of organs starting in the $500,000 range, you can imagine how busy they've been. When Remy's wife threatens to leave him if he doesn't quit repo and move to sales, he decides to pull one last job as his final hurrah (shout out to Rza and a great cameo!). Next thing he knows, he's now on the receiving end of The Unions business and running past due on payments. You see, Remy's developed a conscious as those with near death experiences often do in movies. Needless to say, chaos ensues.

For the most part, I really like this movie. I'd give it 4 our of 5 stars and will probably rent it once it comes out on DVD (if for no other reason than what I hope to be amazing behind the scenes features). The dialogue is witty and just a bit campy. A big gold star to any film that references paradoxical thought experiments like Schrodinger's cat. The action sequences are top notch, especially one earlier in the film where our protagonists discover a nest of past due's aboard a shipping vessel. The soundtrack is equally amazing and features prominently throughout the film. Director Miguel Sapochnik is very competent on his first feature. The editing, camera angles and movement, and performances are great. Where has he been hiding?!? The FX are really great. Located in a future New York (I assume, it's never identified) where every square inch of city space is dominated by skyscrapers and advertisements, blood flows like a Tarantino film and the deaths get pretty creative.

Law is always amazing in these kind of narcissistic, wink wink, performances. You feel sympathy for his character and genuinely want him to succeed. Whitaker chews the scenery in the best possible way, especially in scenes he shares with Law. You really believe the long and deep friendship they share. On the flip side, Braga doesn't really fit in. I understand the need for a female character for Law to play off of, but she is the least fleshed out. Why does he stop to help her when he can't even help himself? Why is he risking his life? Because he loves her? He just met her and from what I can tell she's nothing but a junky (in every possible way). I wanted to know more about her character, how did she get where she was, why does she continue to "upgrade" her body? She is the least developed character. The only other negative I have is the film lagged a bit in the middle. At 120 minutes, it's a long Sci-Fi romp that could have used a little bit of a trim- 10-15minutes max!

What also bothers me is the view that lawlessness is necessary and right. Law gets a new organ, keeps his life, and simply needs to keep working to pay it off. What's the problem? Now that he's "in the system" he feels connected to those who refuse to pay? He doesn't have their problems; a few more repo's and it's all paid off, then he can have his crisis of faith. I'm also disturbed when any character makes a complete 360 in regards to their views, morals, and/or ethics. I just don't believe it. If anything, his line of work should make him all the more aware of how important it is that he pays. Whitaker's Jake makes a beautiful speech to Remy near the beginning of the film, about how the world only works because there is order and consequence. That no matter what people think about them and their job, they're important to the order of things. I just wish Remy had really listened to that speech and maybe been more of a grown-up.
I do wonder how they're getting away with less comparison to "Repo! The Genetic Opera" (as seen above). Both films center on a large conglomerate that produces artificial organs sold at a high cost and viciously repossessed if not paid in full. Drugs and addicts abound. The only difference is "Repo Men" isn't a musical and "Repo!" puts it's main focus on a young girls search for the truth to her identity. The landscape is the same even if some characters are not. Furthermore, the book the film is based on was only recently published in March of last year under the title "The Repossession Mambo"- look for that reference in the film. The movie was written prior to that publication. "Repo!" however, was released in 2008 and based on a stage play that had been performed for years prior. I believe in the adage that there are no original ideas, yet it does seem a bit weird. In full disclosure, I have to admit to not liking "Repo!" at all. Great idea, but no "Rocky Horror".

So, see them both for yourselves and then decide. Might I suggest "Repo Men" first? It really is a much better film and truly enjoyable. However, I would caution against seeing it at any kind of movie grill- whoever thought dinner during a movie was a good idea is bonkers. People can't keep quiet and waiters are always walking in front of you. Furthermore, the number of available prime location seats is down by at least a third. Stick to a traditional theatre instead.


  1. I am so fracking excited to see this flick! Give me existential dilemmas set in our scary, uber-detached future and I'm in! Great review, as always, and you've made me even more eager to check it out.

  2. I have heard such mixed things about this movie I guess I'll have to see it for myself. I almost went last night but got stuck in traffic for too long. I haven't seen Repo! yet either.. I think i may go to a shadow cast performance this weekend at the Lakewood. Anyhoo. I'll probably love because I pretty much love anything, regardless of how good it really is- that has Jude Law in it. MMMMMMMM