Repo Men Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated March 19th, 2010 at 1:45 pm,

Repo Men is as mangled and messy as the unfortunate victims it portrays. Strong lead actors and mindless action are not enough to save it.

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Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw reviews Repo Men

I’ve said this in previous reviews: A movie can fail for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s the actors who drop the ball, other times it’s the director who is inept. And sometimes, as is the case with Repo Men, the studio is primarily guilty for the mess that ends up staining the screen.

In Repo Men, Jude Law stars as Remy, an ex-military man just trying to make a living in a future where just about everything is for sale – including cybernetic body parts for those with failing or ugly bodies. Remy and his lifelong buddy Jake (Forest Whitaker) work for “The Union,” a stereotypical evil corporation that sells these mechanical body parts at exorbitant interest rates, and then sends jackals like Remy and Jake to repossess “the property” when people go broke trying to pay the bill.

Remy and Jake are the best at what they do and truly love it. One problem: Remy is also a family man whose wife (Carice van Houten) thinks his bloody business is no way to set an example for their son. Facing increasing pressure at home, Remy decides to tell Jake and his snake-oil salesman boss, Frank (Liev Schreiber), that he’s moving out of repo and into a boring desk job.

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Needless to say, things don’t go as planned. While working on his last job, Remy suffers a near-fatal injury that leaves him dependent on one of The Union’s artificial hearts. Jake and Frank think it’s no big deal – Remy can just cut a few people up, repossess some Union wares and pay-off his debt. Only Remy can no longer stomach the dirty work. Soon enough, Remy is facing a debt he can’t pay and The Union dispatches his former colleagues (led by Jake, of course) to reclaim his heart.

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What I’ve just described is basically the same synopsis that Universal has been using to sell Repo Men to the masses. However, while the movie is much more convoluted than a simple sci-fi/action flick, it’s not realized enough to be taken as a thought-provoking sci-fi allegory. What we ultimately get is a botched narrative that seems to start, finish, re-start and wander aimlessly for a good portion of its over-extended runtime. Never once does the movie achieve any sense of coherence – right up until the ridiculous third act and (in my opinion) enraging ending.

If you aren’t aware, here’s a brief history of Repo Men: the film is based on a book by Eric Garcia called The Repossession Mambo. If you’ve encountered the book, it’s obvious that Garcia always intended for the story to be a movie (it has “screenplay” basically stamped on it). Garret Lerner (Smallville, Roswell) jumped in and helped Garcia develop the book into a screenplay, which caught the eye of director Miguel Sapochnik (The Dreamer) and star Jude Law. Whitaker was brought onboard late in the game (and I’ll never know why he agreed to do this).

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I happen to know first-hand that Sapochnik filmed much of the book’s backstory. Those flashbacks included relevant material such as Remy’s tumultuous history with his multiple wives and his years in the military, where he and Jake learned to be cold killers. However, in the 2 1/2 years between when Repo Men was filmed and when we’re seeing it in theaters, virtually all of that backstory was “streamlined” into the sci-fi action flick the studio is promoting. I will personally speculate that the only reason we’re even seeing this film in theaters is because the studio hopes to cash in on the movie’s obvious parallels to the current health care crisis.

It’s really a shame that Repo Men got hacked up the way it did,  because the chemistry between Law and Whitaker really is the high point of the film. In fact, their chemistry is so strong that I would be more willing to watch a Repo Men prequel than I would this film. And while both lead actors display some impressive martial arts choreography during the action bits, the CGI blood spray (a la Ninja Assassin) is ridiculous when compared to the cringe-inducing “repo sequences,” where Law and Whitaker perform their ghastly back-alley surgery on unfortunate victims. Sapochnik’s direction is truly sadistic, showing off as much of the brutal dissection and butchery as he can possibly fit into an R-rating. I cringe to think what an unrated director’s cut of this film will show.

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As for the supporting actors: Liev Schreiber (Wolverine) does well enough playing an immoral company man who values the bottom line over human life – but really, it’s more of a caricature than an actual developed character.

The lovely Alice Braga (soon to be seen in Predators) is pretty much wasted as a love interest who gets awkwardly shoved into the film’s second act. Braga’s character, Beth, is basically a filthy street crackhead held together by black market cybernetics – obviously the type of girl a guy who looks like Jude Law would blow off his pretty wife for.

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As for that aforementioned third act: Jude Law established in Sherlock Holmes that he has action-star potential, and his work in Repo Men certainly evidences it. However, the big final fight sequence (you’ve seen in it the trailers) is basically a watered-down version of that now-classic hallway sequence from Old Boy. After that, we get some ridiculous fetishistic attempt to meld erotic and violent imagery – and if THAT isn’t draining enough… oh wait! There’s a twist ending!

Without spoiling anything: I almost threw my popcorn at the screen.

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If you find the premise interesting, like Jude Law and/or Forest Whitaker, then wait for Repo Men to hit DVD or premium cable. If those selling points don’t even interest you that much, then skip it altogether – your time will be better spent.

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If you want to talk about the specifics of plot including any twists in the story, head over to our Repo Men spoilers discussion.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5
(Okay)

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TAGS: 2 star movies, repo men

70 Comments

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  1. This was actually a well designed movie that has been horribly misinterpreted by critics (especially Ebert). If you misinterpret the ending, you lose the entire movie, which is what Ebert did (and perhaps Kofi as well).

    If Phillip K. Dick were alive, he would nod his head in affirmation. Very well played and executed. It is just a shame how people are just not getting it.

    • We get, and it is very condescending of you to think this movie is “over our heads.”

      It’s BLATANTLY obvious from the very first line of the film about Schrodinger’s box what the movie is going to be about.

      You don’t seem to get that there was an entirely different (better developed) movie shot, which the studio ultimately hacked into this mess we saw in theaters.

      From what I know from talking with the director, the original version justifies the ending and themes much better, by supplying the necessary amount of backstory.

      Calling a movie “complex” is not a valid excuse for its failings.

    • I agree with YOUR comments totally, including about Philip K. Dick’s likely appreciation, and so absolutely loved the film!.. maybe not for any single aspect, but the whole thing certainly to me exceeded the sum of it’s parts.. just watched the Directors Cut and enjoyed it even more.. as you say the whole thing does rest on ‘getting’ the ending, which struck a real cord with me the first time around and this time just made me appreciate it more (though perhaps wish I didn’t know it was coming!).. amazing film really as, let’s be honest, this culture of ‘grab-back’ without any moral hesitancy is already upon us!.. this extreme take on a bleak future version of what we already basically have should be viewed with us ALL nodding our heads maybe a little too knowingly if we are to be honest about what we know about our world (and so many in it!) and consumerism.. this, especially as you are lulled into following a guy’s literal moral awakening and realised plight perhaps sympathetically and yet whom if he came for you or yours you would likely rather shoot on the spot!!! As someone who dreams deeply on a nightly basis and who has also wondered (in less happy times in the past!) if to live in such imagined spheres of existence wouldn’t be preferable to reality, I’d have to say about that ending.. WOW!!!

  2. About 45 mins of this movie are not needed… at all. You will feel like you wasted that time in your life. You will know what i am talking about when you watch the movie.

  3. Well, while the movie showed the bleak side of a futuristic city, it didn't seem too bad to me. I found the movie interesting as we watch the main character struggle to fight the system he's worked for, trying to escape his fate. The last quarter of the movie seemed exciting to me at first although one of the scenes left me very squimish.
    The ending of the movie is what really killed all my opinions of this, it left everything hanging and made me wonder out of a variety of endings they could have chosen, “Why this one?”

  4. They ending is what really pulled the movie together for me and had me to watch it a second time to see how it really fit or Glitched.
    As they say life goes on. Business is business quirky as the movie is at times. It does convey what little of a message that it has in its small time span. They could have expanded a bit more on the Corporation side of things as well as other options in technology. But that is probably for another movie. The thing is its very few perfect movies so we just have to keep and open mind that is not one of them.

  5. I honestly thought that the one scene where the fetish stuff comes up was really romantic and sexual. I guess I am not like other girls who think roses are a nice way to tell someone how much they love you, but that for someone to be able to go this far with you and do some very gruesome things to save their significant other. I don’t think this movie was cheesy really. I cried at the end I won’t lie. It was really heartbreaking and tragic (Without spoiling the whole movie.) I think they did a very nice job on this movie.

    BUT! I would like to add that I felt like Repo Men kind of came from the Musical (sorta) Repo:The Generic Opera. It had a little bit more of a different story line but all in all it was about the same thing.

    • IF you look at the so called things he went thru with the girl
      all the way to the end of the movie – he didn’t really do anything.
      as it was all in his HEAD. go figure that one out people.

  6. the movie sucks…this is the worst movie ever.

  7. The ending had me annoyed. I’m not happy that about half of what happened was in his head! What a stupid way to end the movie. So then what about the stuff he was writing in the type writer?

    I want him to wake up from w/e coma thing he’s in…That was just a lame way to end the movie.

  8. I really liked the film. It didn’t just make me think of the health care industry but also of all the people who were effectively being thrown out of their homes to live on the streets, the endless war the US is engaged in and how violence is becoming more and more desensitized. We still have americans running around thinking health care is the individuals problem and not a serious social issue. I liked the reference to ‘the union’ and ‘the system’ that no one can get out of or away from because it pwn’s you! Restricted travel and constant screening…welcome to the new world order! There was a lot more in this film than I think people are willing to give it credit for. The chemistry between Whitaker and Law was wonderful and really carried the film.
    As for the ending I didn’t find anything erotic about it at all. I was surprised to read so many reviews that refer to it as such! I thought of it as the ultimate show of how little of themselves they actually owned and their self-mutilation was the final control they had over their lives. Just me I guess.

  9. it sucks

    really i hate movies have ending like this its sooo lame