Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Repo men - Home Video Review




Release Date: March 19, 2010

Review Vital Stats:
Format: Blu-ray
Player: LG Model 370
Picture Quality: High-Definition
Sound Quality: High-Definition

Biases:
Likes: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker
Neutral: Future worlds derived from Ridely Scott's Blade Runner
Hates: A novel concept that is squandered



I really like the underlying idea behind Repo Men. A world where artificial organs have become big business just like the automobile and housing markets. People that are tired of being on the organ donor wait lists and want to get healthy immediately have the option to lay down some hard earned cash to get a quality lung, heart or kidney when they want it instead of waiting for some random person to keel over. Unfortunately there is a catch to this new found business model. Just like buying a car or a house the person with their name on the lease is responsible for making the payments and if those payments are not made in a timely fashion, well...let's just say they better make those payments.

Because if they don't pay they are in danger of having that beautiful new piece of hardware embedded in their body repossessed by one of the company's high priced, highly skilled and amoral retrievers. These Repo Men are your typical hired guns, bounty hunters sent out to take back a piece of property that for all intents and purposes no longer belong to the people they are keeping alive. You see, these men don't find these people in possession of a past due organ and take them down to the local hospital to have it removed. Oh no, they take down their targets and perform their own free form surgical procedure on them right then and there using their little bag of tricks.

Remy & Jake get ready to collect on some past due bills.
The main corporation behind this medical breakthrough goes by the name of The Union. The Union employs these repo men in a very hush hush manner and it takes a certain type of person to do a job like this. One such person is a man named Remy (Jude Law) whom we first meet during an encounter with one of his "clients". Remy is the perfect man for a job like this because he not only seems to be OK with maiming human beings at a moments notice but he does it all with a certain amount of glee. There is a scene early on where both him and his very close childhood friend Jake (Forest Whitaker), whom is also a repo man, torment a man standing on a corner after a quick scan shows he has only a couple days until he is past due and ready for repossession.

Although Remy clearly likes what he does for a living his wife and child aren't too happy about where their money comes from that puts food on their table. His wife is constantly pushing him to take a desk job and become one of the salesmen that pushes the product into the clients instead of taking it out of them. There comes a moment where she is no longer asking though, which is instigated after a rather gruesome and by the numbers organ removal by Jake outside their house during a family BBQ. She lays down the law and it becomes a choice. Either Remy takes the other job or he loses his family. Despite some resistance from Jake on the matter Remy chooses his family and takes the desk job...after he completes one last job that is.

When will someone come up with a new vision of the future?
Unfortunately things don't go too well on that final job (I swear I will never say just one last job about anything because it just never seems to go right). Remy ends up in the hospital from an injury he receives on the job and before he even realizes what is going on he is told by his boss, Frank (Liev Schreiber) and Jake that they had to put an artificial heart in him to keep him alive. After a series of moments of disbelief Remy soon starts to live his new life behind that desk and trying to make those payments. Unfortunately he doesn't make quite as much as he used to and his wife has left him because he just had to do that one last job. He soon finds that making those large payments is too much for him and it isn't long until he finds himself in a sticky situation where the hunter finally becomes the hunted.

And thus the chase begins with every repo man out there on the look out for him as well as his good friend Jake who is shown being very conflicted about bringing in his best friend and ripping him open for a pay day. The rest of the film plays out much in the same manner as the old sci-fi film Logan's Run where he is just trying to find a way out of his predicament while also trying to help those that he once tracked down and killed. He comes across this woman in one of the run down sections of the city named Beth (Alice Braga). We saw her earlier singing at a club Remy and Jake frequented but now she is mysteriously hiding out in the slums of the city. It's not long until we find out she has some past due organs in her as well and just like that the two of them team up and try to help each other.

Remy trying to re-negotiate his contract.
I found a lot to like in this film. As I mentioned before the idea of big corporations running organ replacements like a business deal is a fascinating one. I can also see some sort of truth to the idea of how they might want those parts back if they aren't being paid for (although admittedly the solution shown in the film is completely outrageous with how the repo men take care of business). Unfortunately whatever potential there may have been for this premise is squandered thanks to an absolutely preposterous script and a world that doesn't make one lick of sense.

I am not some kind of futurist expert or anything like that but I find it hard to believe that any society would let these bounty hunters run amok all over town, ripping organs out of people and leaving their bodies on the sidewalk for the local garbage man. There doesn't seem to be any law present anywhere other than these repo men whom from what I can tell are far from sworn officers of the law. And this appears to be a pretty solid society, the city looks fairly clean and there are nice suburbs with quaint looking schools. I just found it a bit strange that a man is able to have a cab driver pull up to a suburban household with a passenger, have a man come out and rip open said passenger right there on the sidewalk in the middle of the day for everyone to see and then go back inside to put another shrimp on the barbie with no repercussions what so ever.

"Beth is more machine now than human. Twisted and....ah never mind."
OK, so there are no police or law enforcement anywhere to be found in this future, whatever, I could care less about believability by this point. The more pressing issue here is that none of these characters do anything that makes one ounce of sense. Let's take a real good look at our main character Remy. We are shown how much of a kick he gets out of ripping organs out of people. There is a sense of pride he has when he gets his man and turns in the goods. He thinks all the clients of The Union are imbeciles for getting into these contracts that will eventually cost them their lives. But when the tables are turned on him he suddenly becomes a freedom fighter for them?

Everything involving his family is poorly structured as well because other than a few fleeting moments of him with his kid or with his wife being upset at him I never once got the feeling that he loved them in any way. Then when he does what his wife asks and gets hurt on his last job she just leaves him? To make it even more bizarre, after a real quick attempt to go and see them again he never once thinks or speaks of them for the rest of the film. There seems to be three different versions of Remy floating around here, one where he loves his family, one where he loves his job, and one where he fights for the oppressed. None of those "Remy's" ever gel into a whole person, we never get the sense of why he makes the curve ball decisions that he does. We are supposed to just accept it.

Remy and Beth find themselves in a strange place.
Another thing that I must point out that bugged the hell out of me during the whole film is the circumstances in which Remy was injured on the job. His injury was received while on the clock and was caused by a piece of machinery provided by his company yet all the cost goes to him for his new organ? Along with no police, I guess they must not have workers compensation or lawyers in this version of our future either. I kept wondering why he wasn't putting up a fight legally for what happened to him. He just kind of accepts it and when time comes for him to pay the piper he just resorts to slaughtering every single person that comes after him.

His relationship with Beth is another head scratcher. He sees her fleetingly at that bar at the beginning and then comes across her while running for his life and within a few scenes they are having sex...what? He still has his wife and kid out there that I suppose he has just given up on and decides to hook up with this strange woman. Remy is just the tip of the iceberg though, his friend Jake makes quite a few questionable choices as well, one of which is a major factor in what happened to Remy in the first place. Jake is like a kid with a gun, he is unpredictable and dangerous to everyone around him. I didn't even fully understand how him and Remy became such life long friends given their rough beginnings. Jake was more of a cipher for events in the film as opposed to an actual character.

Remy really doesn't want to pay his bills.
All is not lost though because I must say that despite the inconsistent world and questionable character choices there is at least one thing for people to latch on to here. The final 15 to 20 minutes of the film contains some of the craziest shit I have seen in a while. This is one bloody film, more bloody than most would expect but what goes down near the end was the last thing I expected. Spoiler alert here...after Remy cuts his way through a barrage of business men and women both he and Beth end up in this sort of clean room where repossessed organs are returned. Well, both Remy and Beth have some things that need returning, however those things are keeping them alive for the most part. So, their solution is to literally cut each other open, stick a scanner inside them, scan the organ and then move on to the next one. The scene is shot like a sexual encounter with the two of them reaching into each others bodies all covered in each others blood. It really has to be seen to be believed.

That however isn't enough to save the film from its own over indulgence in mediocrity. The ending is a pretty big middle finger to the audience but even then that didn't bother me because I could really care less about what happened to anyone here. I sure as hell wasn't rooting for a born again repo man who was responsible for dozens of deaths for cash. Beth wasn't really a character and actually she was more a criminal than anything else since she was skipping on the bill so to speak. Jake was a selfish and heartless thug that was responsible for everything that happened to Remy in the first place. Nobody here warranted any sort of compassion from the viewer and if you can't find anybody to get attached to then whats the point?


AVOID IT

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