Repo Men Review

Published 5 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.

repo men3 Repo Men Review

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.

Repo men review Repo Men Review

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

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  1. So Kofi I see you Don't mention Repo: THe Genetic Opera that came out in 2008, why is this? Also from the previews and my viewing of the afore mentioned I knew there was not going to be any in depth message in the film but I'll check this anyway and see how bad it is.

  2. I still want to see this movie and I will be seeing it tonight.

  3. I've heard all the rip-off claims about this film and Genetic Opera. I didn't even like this film enough as a film to even go there…

  4. I like the actors and the premise…im gonna go see it for myself.

  5. Kofi

    do you like movies?

  6. Not lately. But then, Jan – March can be rough.

    Wait: weren't you one of the ones lambasting me for “drooling over Avatar?”

  7. And for the record, I'm a writer, i.e., I like good stories. In whatever medium they're told. This story is crap and I'm FAR from being the only one who thinks so. I stand by what I said in the review.

  8. So if I was hoping to go in for some mindless action and not a whole lot of plot and wanted to walk away feeling like Jude Law has surprised me in this movie with his action prowess and it had a decent story I'm going to be sorely disappointed? Or just a little disappointed?

    I just really want to get out of the apartment tonight.

  9. Do I dare mention that you like good stories and you still liked “Avatar?” Maybe that's going a bit too far after a let down like “Repo Man.”

  10. Kofi

    you like stories? Didn't you give Shutter Island a weak review? And no, I didn't jump all over you liking Avatar. I thought it was cool.

  11. Now I want to see the twist ending…

  12. Jessie

    I read another review and they enjoyed it for the action and a bit of the story. I'll meet you at the theater.

  13. Yeah I saw that. Metacritic is beating it up too but I'm still checking it out. What do I know? I liked transformers.

  14. I gave Shutter Island 3.5 out of 5. To me that's a “pretty good movie.” Check your facts, all the reviews are on the site LOL.

    Yeah I LIKED Avatar's story. Thought it was a good archetypal story that appealed to the masses. And wow – seems I was right about that.

    But I don't need to defend myself – how about you guys get a chance to go out and actually see Repo Men and then we can better discuss on Monday, cool?

  15. Avatar had a story? No S___!

    Thanks for the heads up. I WAS gonna see it being a Jude Law fan but not now.
    (I'm still bummed about the gore fest that was Daybreakers.)

  16. LOL!! 😀

  17. Maybe you guys need to get your facts straight. 3.5 out of 5 is only a number while
    you actually talk about the film like you didn't enjoy it. You guys prefer story but meanwhile you give the wolfman a 4 out of 5. No big deal but you guys getting defensive shows me enough. We were just talking but you got defensive so I responded. If you want to be a jerk Kofi I can play that game too.

  18. Wow, who's getting defensive? You throw that word – usually in the wrong context. Obviously you didn't read the Shutter Island review – I praise the craftmanship, the performances – I only said the editing was rough and detracted from the film for me. I was also in a room with Scorsese when HE acknowledged as much! What's your opinion against THAT?

    And did you notice my last response to you like an hour ago? I actually made you a peace offering! Check it out again (reading comprehension):

    I gave Shutter Island 3.5 out of 5. To me that's a “pretty good movie.” Check your facts, all the reviews are on the site LOL.

    Yeah I LIKED Avatar's story. Thought it was a good archetypal story that appealed to the masses. And wow – seems I was right about that.

    But I don't need to defend myself – how about you guys get a chance to go out and actually see Repo Men and then we can better discuss on Monday, cool?

  19. Yeah I read it but I'm working so I can't respond very quickly. Reading comprehension? That's a very rude thing to say coming from a “professional” lol. I guess that's what you become when you're in a room with Scorcese! Woot woot!

  20. If you haven't seen Genetic Opera, you should definitely give it a chance. It IS an opera, but they got Sarah Brightman, one of opera's current leading stars, and some suprisingly good performances. If it helps, think of Repo Men as Genetic Opera's deformed bastard stepbrother. lol

  21. LMAO I have to agree with this in so many ways. What amuses me is that the book came out a year before the movie was released, so…

    But yeah, give Repo the Genetic Opera a try.

  22. Man that gave me a good laugh

  23. As the others have said, Repo The Genetic Opera is worth taking a look at, and perhaps should have been watched first before u went into this Hollywood version

  24. mchops,

    I don't get where you're coming from. You're defending this movie despite the fact you haven't seen it. Are you saying that NO movie EVER deserves a bad review? There ARE terrible movies out there, in case you hadn't noticed.

    And BTW, it used to be just me reviewing films here – but now that we have Kofi and others reviewing films it's not really an apples to apples comparison between reviews if the same person didn't write them both. I'm the one that gave Wolfman a 4 out of 5, not Kofi.


  25. exactly. avatar was the ultimate cliche and the animation was awful i dont know why it won Oscars for visual effects
    the only good thing about it was the details and story plots ,the only thing it had.
    even that f***in crap fest called transformers had much better visual effects
    at least it didnt felt like cartoon
    overaly it was enjoable but only because good plot line not story!!

  26. your wrong about avatar
    you liked the plots which where rich not the story
    and the rendering was really really really awful
    i know it was a good movie and it was worse watching 2 times but it wasn't that great specially the story was cliche
    and don't bother arguing with that crapformers dude its not hes fault that hes like this

  27. yeah. actualy nobody expects much from someone who liked transformers. woot woot

  28. Vic

    I'm not defending the movie since I have NOT seen it. I'm ranting about what makes a good movie. The rating system seems to be inconsistent even if it isn't apples for apples since we have different reviewers (which I appreciate). Maybe I'm just ranting for no reason and if I'm a jerk I expect you to call me out. But attacking me saying I can't read is childish.