Sharing nothing in common with Alex Cox's 1984 punk-rock-crazy Repo Man yet more aligned with Darren Lynn Bousman's 2008 film Repo!: The Genetic Opera, this Repo Men has some wit, violence and gore, but also some problems. Like Saw VI, this film provides commentary (albeit only at surface level) on the current health care debate.
Repo Men introduces us to the future with a news voiceover montage of how things came to be: global recession, fifth stage of war in Nigeria, technological breakthroughs. A corporation called The Union manufactures technologically sophisticated artificial organs, or "artiforgs" marketed and sold to gullible customers at exorbitant prices. The downside lies in the fine print that tells patients that if payments aren't made, hotshot repo men are sent to cut them open and yank out the bionic organ. Then, of course, you die.
The twist comes when Remy (Jude Law), one of The Union's best repo men, suffers cardiac failure on the job and, thereby awakens with a new gizmo for a heart and a huge debt to pay. But with his new heart, he finds difficulty doing his job - let's say his heart is just not into it anymore. When he can't make payments, Remy goes on the run from his former employer. Then, quite predictably, Remy's former partner and best friend Jake (Forest Whitaker) is sent to track him down.
Resembling Blade Runner's futuristic world and scratching the surface of Robocop's sense of futuristic humor, Repo Men is actually more of a run-of-the-mill buddy action movie. You know, the kind where they would lay down their life for each other and their competitive spirit makes the wives jealous.
Director Miguel Sapochnik takes us on a slow journey only to liven it up with flying bullets, blood spewing and some wacky punch-fests, all which seem to be derived from a myriad of better movies. One nice touch was an old-school fight scene between Whitaker and Law, nicely steering clear of the jump cuts and speeding camera angles of typical action fare.
Law comes close to being tough and vulnerable at the same time, but as an action hero, well, he seems to have fun as a buff dude, but it's hard to buy his kick-ass tough-guy performance. His knife-wielding killing machine act is downright laughable. Alice Braga (City of God) as Remy's love interest only slightly pulls off the task of being all at once sexy, homeless and bionic. Whitaker is cuddly yet murderous, but we know he can do this kind of nice-guy-with-hidden-emotional-baggage in his sleep. Carice van Houten (Black Book) as Remy's wife is reduced by a poor script into nothing but a hateful bitch. And Liev Shreiber, once again a cartoonish villain, hams it up as the CEO of The Union.
Repo could succeed if it weren't all over the map. Too many questions arise, like, "If he gained a conscience along with the new heart, then why does he keep killing people?"
With a laundry list of discrepancies and a narration containing a zillion holes, the ridiculous twist ending eradicates most of what you've been watching, diminishing it into an entirely different concept. The almost-redeemable ending has us understand why it didn't make any sense for so long. If Repo Men followed its instincts, there was real potential to join the ranks of Blindness and District 9. How this film misses the opportunity to have fun with all the recent political implications and come off as a generic fable is nothing short of bewildering.
Starring Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Liev Shreiber, Alice Braga. Directed by Miguel Sapochnik. Rated R