Repo Men 
It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed a film, other projects and a string of less than stellar films were the reason for my disinterest in devoting time to an extensive review, but I’ve decided to do a review of Repo Men, mostly because I wasn’t disappointed by it, nor found the subject matter absolutely impossible to tackle in a meaningful review. (Which was the reason why I never reviewed A Single Man, simply because it was a little bit too much for me to handle and still do it justice.) No, I had absolutely no expectations other than that it wouldn’t be Citizen Kane, which probably went a long way to making this film the an enjoyable one. Well, that and the extensive amounts of gore.
I have been following the development and the marketing campaign behind the film for a little over six months now and I have to say that it came close to the brilliance displayed in the campaign to promote District 9, with seemingly life-like, high resolution posters (see below) advertising living irresponsibly, drinking excessively and eating all the junk-food you could lay your greedy hands on since “The Union Cares.” You can have all your organs replaced with cybernetic “artiforgs” that often work better and longer than your normal, flesh-lumps would. You could get your heart replaced for a mere 975,000 dollars with an 18% APR on the first year and 24% the following years. In this fashion the Union provides hearts, kidneys, eyes, spines, livers and limbs. Check out the brilliantly designed http://www.theunioncares.com, the official site of The Union, and see which Union payment plans suit your lifestyle!
Brilliant, just brilliant. I always like it when they supplement an already compelling and extensive fictional universe with well thought out and designed cross-overs into our own world, blurring the lines between the real and the fictional and creating a deeper, more immersive film experience.
.: The Story
The Union is a company selling artificial organs to anyone willing to extend their life by cybernetic means. Repo Men repossess the organs from people who are more than 3 months overdue with their payments, breaking into houses, knocking people unconscious while asking a series of standard questions before cutting you open on your kitchen floor and retrieving the liver you decided not to make payments on.
“Would you like to have an ambulance present to drive you to the hospital after I’m done with the procedure?”
“Are they going to give me a new heart?”
“No, not with your credit history.”
The Union works the same way credit cards companies do, offering you a product that will allow you to extend an already toxic lifestyle into infinity, while making huge amounts of money off the interest you pay on the loans they offer to pay for these life extending products. Some people take great care in making sure to pay off the loans on time, but most people tend to fall behind on the enormous payments they’ll have to make. And that’s where the Union makes their money, retrieving the organs and selling them to someone else and starting the cycle all over again.
Remy (Law) is a level 5 Repo Man, the best in the business, working alongside his best friend Jake (Whitaker), who have been inseparable since the third grade, went to school together, went into the military together, shared everything together. Then married Carol (van Houten) and had a son and slowly but surely Carol wants Remy to do less dangerous work, pressuring him to take a job in sales. Obviously reluctant to give up the life of a repo man, Remy keeps putting off talking to his his boss, Frank (Schreiber), who runs the local Union branch, being too content to repo other people’s organs with his friend Jake. His entire world is turned upside down when he decides to do one last repo and something goes wrong and he gets hurt. After having spent a few days in a coma he wakes up with an artiforg heart (including the stranglehold contract) and his wife unwilling to continue with the relationship. More importantly, he finds himself strangely afflicted by a conscience, unable to perform the repos that he used to do with ease. His savings dwindle and he quickly falls behind on his payments until he is driven into the company of Beth (Braga) a girl he always admired from afar who’s dealing with the same trouble as he is. The both of them decide to run, hiding out in the abundant dilapidated tenements in the ghetto’s, far away from the skyscrapers and the luxury of the life he came from and hunted by his ex-colleagues who are trying to repo his heart.
.: The Production
The production on this film is beautiful, allowing the sleek design of hypermodernity to stand beautifully juxtaposed against the excessive violence, the gory repos and the deplorable state of the ghettos. It’s a post-modern world where people have embraced the seamless integration of man and machine without their being an emphasis on overly cybered individuals, which is often the case with films that depict worlds where people opt for cybernetic modification of their bodies. The worst you see is a man with an obvious cybernetic limb, the rest of the cybernetics are all subtle, seemless and discrete. Not that there aren’t cybernetic freaks, but that’s not what the films focusses on as it looks at what happens when a normal person falls behind on payments. It would’ve been too easy to inject the film with too many displays of the fringe cyberfreaks. (Not that it wouldn’t have been fun, I just admire the self-restraint.)
The acting is average, but Whitaker once again takes the crown, closely followed by the overlooked Schreiber-powerhouse. Seriously, why don’t we see more of these two guys? Jude Law looks in shape without being overly muscled, just about what I would expect his character to look like, but his effete accent is somewhat out of place. Braga does not deliver a particularly good performance, but she does seem to fit the roll well. I have the feeling that van Houten’s performance mostly ended up on the editing room floor. It ended up being a distraction and not much of a critical plot element.
All in all, it’s an enjoyable film, with great visuals and a compelling universe and a rock solid performance by Whitaker who seems to be getting better and better with each time I see him on the silver screen.
.: The Trailer
.: The Posters