Repo Men

Repo Men Repo Men Repo Men Repo Men Repo Men

Two good actors, Jude Law and Forest Whitaker, are totally wasted in the futuristic action-thriller "Repo Men," yet another disappointing dystopian tale, which easily could be added to the pile of trashy pictures released this spring.

The film is written by Eric Garcia (who did a much better job with "Matchstick Men") and Garrett Lerner (TV's House M.D."), and is based on Eric Garcia's novel “The Repossession Mambo." The premise of the plot is that human beings have extended and even improved their lives through subtle and expensive artificial organs. However, with the brutal still ruled by capitalism and free market, the dark, negative side of these medical breakthroughs is that if an individual doesn’t pay his bill, "The Union" sends its skilled repo men to take back its property, showing utterly no concern for comfort level or even sheer survival.
 
In "Repo Men," Law plays Remy, one of the best organ repo men in the entire business. When he suffers a near-fatal injury, while working, he awakens to find himself fitted with the company’s top-of-the-line heart replacement, as well as a hefty debt well beyond his status and means. The gimmick is, one of the procedure's side effects is that his heart is no longer in the job. When Remy can’t make the payments, The Union sends its toughest enforcer, Remy’s former partner Jake (Forest Whitaker) to track him down.
 
In other words, in poor, unsuccessful imitation of one of Hitchcock's most prevalent themes, the hunter has become the hunted. A flick based on two men is not enough and so there's a third part, a female named joins Beth (Alice Braga), also a debtor, enabled with the skills of teaching him how to vanish from the system. As Remy and Jake embark on a chase across a landscape populated by maniacal friends and foes, one man becomes a reluctant hero, you could say a champ, for thousands on the run.
 
In the press notes, writer Eric Garcia notes about property ownership in the U.S.: “There’s very little that we truly own. Even when we say we’re homeowners, few of us actually are. The bank owns my house, and I’m nice enough to continue to pay them or they’ll come and take it away." Hence the origins of the book, which took him from world of property to the milieu of health care, which is quickly falling off a precipice. While for Garcia, "it wasn’t a big stretch to imagine a world where we had to pay for our organs,” it seems particularly hard and challenging for the to translate this idea (not bad) into a movie that's dramatically and visually compelling.
 
I have seen before only one movie by Miguel Sapochnik, "The Dreamer," and was not impressed with it either. Any Hollywood hack with some basic technical skills could have staged some more exciting chase scenes and action set-pieces.
 
Just when you though Law's career was back on track with his entertaining turn in "Sherlock Holmes," a movie that belonged to Robert Downey Jr., but enabled him to show his dramatic and physical chops. Regrettably, after deservedly winning the Best Actor Oscar for "The Last King of Scotland," the potentially powerful Whitaker has also made mostly trash (to pay the bills??). I don’t know what kinds of roles these thespians are offered but am assuming that both have some choice.   Alice Braga, who showed so much promise in "I Am Legend" and "Blindness," is appealing but she plays an unconvincing role.
 
The supporting cast is also impressive—on paper—until you see and hear the unbelievable, preposterous dialogue they're given. Liev Schreiber plays The Union’s manager and top closer Frank. Dutch actress Carice Van Houten ("Valkyrie") is cast as Remy’s wife Carol, and RZA as T-Bone, the musician whose encounter with Remy ends the latter's ability to do his job.