Thursday, March 25, 2010

Repo Men

"I don't like my job, and... I don't think I'm gonna go anymore."

In a future where artificial organs are treated like any other thing bought on credit, one union man finds himself on the business end of repossession.

My best friend and I recently had a conversation about the movie The Invention of Lying. He had just recently seen it, and come to the same conclusion that I had when I saw: It was a mediocre movie, that missed all the opportunities it's spectacular premise offered. Repo Men, is another title to add to that list. But it does something many other titles in it's company can't seem to pull off. Put simply, Repo Men may be a crap movie, but it's a lot of fun to watch.

Raging Health Care debate, our country dealing with the consequences of unchecked credit abuse, even questions about the morality of mercenaries and their place in modern society- Yes, Repo Men passes on opportunities to explore all of these. Any commentary is at best implied, and at worst an accident. Instead we're given a predictable and bloody jaunt through a half formed future world where artificial organs can be bought like cars from dealerships.

Like any thing else bought on credit, your new organ can be repossessed if your account goes into default. Jude Law plays Remy, a Union man, one of the people they call when you fall behind on your payments. After he has an accident on the job that leaves him as one of the "clients", Remy finds he's had a... ahem... change of heart. This seems to be a rather selective change however; he shivers like a kitten in the rain when it comes to cutting into a "client", but spends a rather large stint of the movie reducing other Union types (and T.S.A. employees) to syrupy chunks with whatever's handy (my favorite was the type-writer). But this is only the beginning of the plot holes...

You see, Union men get paid commission for every artificial organ (artiforg... yea, I know) they bring in. Remy can't repo anymore, which means he doesn't get paid. Soon he finds he himself has become a delinquent account. Except, he had an accident so bad that it ruined his heart on the job, why does he have to pay at all? Apparently this is a future with no workman's comp. or any other type of insurance.

And then there's his best friend Jake, deftly played by Forrest Whittaker. Remy and Jake were supposedly the baddest Union men in town, and when Remy has his crisis or career, Jake gives him a place to stay and tries to help him get back on his feet. He gives him pep talks and tips, he even subdues "clients" and then passes on the commission- urging Remy to do wet work and collect the commission instead. Jake is willing to do nearly anything to help accept, of course, just give him the money to pay his bill! And we know he has it because, among other things, they were the baddest Union men in town right?

And so the movie goes. Remy's romance with Beth, Alicia Braga in high form, is well acted but horribly plotted, the side story with his wife and son is a joke, and then there's the ending. The ultra violent lead-up feels a bit tacked on but the sequence that followed -and I know I'm probably alone in this- was truly enjoyable, even though it contains one of the most glaring plot-holes of all; why is it they can read the bar-code on an artiforg from half a football field away with the mobile scanners on their guns, but the scanners hooked up to the super manufacturer mainframe pretty much have to be in contact? No, I think the real let down was with the over all wrap-up ( I refuse to call it a twist ending), which would have been an interesting if it had happened at the end of the first act, but instead felt shoddily tacked on.

Repo Men is much less than the sum of it's parts. It's premise, it's performances, it's cast (did I metion Liev Schrieber as the schmoozing salesmen, priceless), it all comes together under the hood of an exercise in bloody predictability. But it is these separate factors that save it from the "waste of time" bin. It may not be a great movie, but it's a truly fun movie- and not just fun to tear apart... though that was fun too.

Watcher X says: "This is not sexy..."

Reel Deal Recommends:
Cold Mountain: Jude Law in one of his best performances to date.
The Last King of Scotland: Forrest Whitaker won an Oscar for this gem.
I Am Legend: Alicia Braga was the best parts of this hum-drum "drama".
The Manchurian Candidate: Liev Schrieber, need I say more?

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