In Repo Men, Jude Law and Forest Whitaker are bounty hunter-style repossession agents, not of cars or of houses, but of human replacement organs. This action-packed lesson in unlikelihood suffers from a badly deficient plot due to a story that never gives the viewer any level of satisfaction whatsoever.
“Can’t pay for your house? The bank takes it. Can’t pay for your car? The bank takes it. Can’t pay for your liver? Well, that’s where I come in.”
Jude Law is Remy, a once proud recovery agent, a husband and father who now wants to change lines of work and spend more time at home at the urgent pleadings of his wife (Carice van Houten). Forest Whitaker is Jake, Remy's partner in what should be a crime, but it's not.
The world of Repo Men is what really raises the eyebrows. No one seems to object to the practice of repo-ing organs by taking them out of bodies right where they stand, these organs being what keeps the people alive. Where are the rioters, the concerned families, the special interest groups when you need them? No one is making waves to stop this heinous practice.
The only beauty of this horribly ugly, detestably bad movie is that it's a grotesque take off of that limp urban legend about a man meeting and having drinks with a beautiful woman in some big city and then waking up in his hotel room in pain and with ice packs around him and a note that says: “You only have one kidney left. Call 911.”
But the urban legend at least has intrigue and makes for good spooky story material. The same can't be said of Repo Men. Those who can no longer pay to keep their artificial organs beg to keep them and live, but it won't work. But no worries, all collection agents must ask if the owner of the repossessed implant wants an ambulance to be on site or to have one called before the organ is taken out. How humane...that more than makes up for sentencing people to death because they can't pay for the blood pump or glucose regulator that keeps them alive.
This bizarre future society where people need organ replacements on credit must be the result of a maddening epidemic, exploited by a power-crazed Union, comprised of loan officers who've gone a bit overboard in recovering losses. Exactly what brought about this apparent organ transplant epidemic we are never told, but we are told that the banks make more money if they finance these organs, as opposed to selling them outright to a rich client. To make them available to the average man, they are financed with enormous interest rates and more money is made.
But how bad can it be? So what if some of us can't eat kidney beans for a week after watching it (some of you couldn't before). Is it that bad? Yes. As stated, Repo Men has a problem connecting with reality. The tools of the agents are a small, sanitation-challenged kits of wholly inadequate, on-the-site surgical tools. A psychopath with an organ fetish who uses kitchen knives to disfigure his victims in the basement of his home might be as prepared for the task of removing organs as these guys.
Every time they slice someone open, they leave a HUGE freaking mess! I know that doesn’t surprise you. Just knock them out with a stun gun, cut them open on their own living room floor, and take what is yours. Nothing is going to stop the company, and apparently, they are everywhere—their grasp reaching as far as South American jungles, so it is suggested. That said, feel free to operate with legal and moral impunity if you're an agent.
Your average collector will have no crisis of conscience. They stroll into the office where they get their assignments as confidently as Law & Order detectives. Though warned to keep away from the tables with salesmen working their to-be clients, they walk around the halls and carry on with office jokes and reclaimed artificial livers thrown on the table. And why not spar and see who's the toughest in tomfoolery while doing so.
The premise has potential, but needs about as much reworking as the male prostate. And while there is plenty of comic book-style action to occupy many (for which it receives a modicum of credit), the improbable and poorly justified plot set-up just doesn't ring credible. You buy into none of it. You feel for no one. The aura of dark, disturbing, Sci-fi B-movie-ism always rains down on this gloomy and gory parade.
When Remy comes to need an artificial heart that he can't afford, he finds himself on the run from the very system he has faithfully served (you saw it coming). In a flurry of fighting, he finds himself ready to finish it all. Standing beside him is a girl named Beth (Alice Braga). She's human, but that's sort of debatable since nearly every part of her body has (almost amusingly) been replaced with a financed organ. Though it's not over yet, the dust settles, followed by a make-out scene where the two are compelled to cut each other open and scan their own organs while groping each other in passionate love play, thus bringing a whole new meaning to the word: REVOLTING!
What is not logistically unsupported is as repulsive as anything you've ever seen, making Repo Men a bad bargain to begin with. Poised as a political statement on corporate greed and healthcare, Repo Men hides its obtuse back end in an unsatisfying use of techno-gadgetry and comes to a head in an ending that will leave viewers feeling as depressed as they do cheated.
Grade: D- (1 star)
Rated: R (for gore, violence, language, and nudity)
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Summary: A former organ repossession man fights the system when he finds himself the target.
Starring: Jude Law "Remy," Forest Whitaker "Jake," Alice Braga "Beth," Liev Schreiber "Frank," Carice van Houten "Carol"
Genre: Action / Sci-Fi / Thriller