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.

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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

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  1. Pj

    that's my point. I'll go into transformers 3 with an open mind. I don't assume like everyone else that it will be horrible because the second was ridiculous. Anyone who expects a Michael bay movie about robots to be really good doesn't know what they're talking about (even though that's no excuse for a bad movie). Just because I enjoyed the transformers movies doesn't mean I'm blind to the fact that some people will absolutely despise it.

  2. Believe me, I've thought more than once about dumping the ratings system and just letting the reviews stand on their own.

  3. Just got back from Repo Men…wow. it was much better than Screen rant led me to believe, i would have given it a 3 out of 5…because the ending totally shocked me…and not in a good way. I guess every repo isnt just a repo…lol.

    As for it being messy and mangled I totally disagree…if anything I really felt like i knew all the characters and their backstory. And i felt like all the characters that mattered were thouroughly dissected…it reminded me of an episode of The Outerlimits” (which I loved growing up). The ending still has me in shock though…man that was jacked up.

  4. I think Repo Men is worth more than a rental…I really did enjoy it…and i kinda want to go back to see if their was anything i missed. 3 out of 5.

    Oh and loved the first Predators trailer on the big screen….July cant get here soon enough.

  5. “Anyone who expects a Michael bay movie about robots to be really good doesn't know what they're talking about “

    Why? Because Michael Bay directed it or because it's about giant robots? Why can't a movie about giant robots be excellent? Have you not see The Iron Giant? Giant robot and a fantastic movie.

    If you're saying that Michael Bay sucks as a director when it comes to plot and characters, that's fine. But a movie can be about virtually ANY subject matter and be great if done correctly.

  6. I'm saying both. If you walk in to a Michael bay transformers movie expecting Oscar worthy material then you'll definitely be disappointed. Why go to taco bell expecting a good tuna sandwich?

  7. “Anyone who expects a Michael bay movie about robots to be really good doesn't know what they're talking about “

    Why? Because Michael Bay directed it or because it's about giant robots? Why can't a movie about giant robots be excellent? Have you not see The Iron Giant? Giant robot and a fantastic movie.

    If you're saying that Michael Bay sucks as a director when it comes to plot and characters, that's fine. But a movie can be about virtually ANY subject matter and be great if done correctly.

  8. I'm saying both. If you walk in to a Michael bay transformers movie expecting Oscar worthy material then you'll definitely be disappointed. Why go to taco bell expecting a good tuna sandwich?

  9. @Jessie

    you will enjoy it.

  10. The acting is superb, and if you're a Scifi junkie you should really enjoy the movie, I did.

    3.5, maybe even 4 out of 5.

  11. @Vic

    If you do get the chance to see this I would love to know what you thought.

  12. The story wasn't as original as I would have liked, and the end was horrible, but the movie wasn't bad at all, I enjoyed it, especially after I sat through cop land, wolfman, and daybreakers, I mean lets be serious, what were you really expecting? It's worth the watch.

  13. So an unoriginal story with a horrible ending is “enjoyable?” You liked the action sequences with the CGI blood? Or the mess of that was the second act – Jude Law's wife getting totally swapped out for a crackhead chick? The son – eh, whatever.

    And of those “horrible” movies you cite, I staunchly disagree with Cop Land. That was a pretty good “Sunday Matinee” movie.

  14. How about a different rating system, one that's also comprised of phrases that reflect “TV and Movie news without the sugar coating”. For example:
    1 popcorn = Mangled mess; Kofi burst a forehead vein.
    2 popcorns = Transformer 2 contender
    3 popcorns = Better than your average Nick Cage flick if it's Sunday
    4 popcorns, 5 popcorns, and so on….

    As for this movie, Im inclined not to see it now. Ive had enough lousy movie experiences to bother risking another $9 (and $30 on snacks, heh heh heh).

  15. Thats true,Loved the Iron Giant and it was a amazing movie that was sadly overlooked !

    And I really think Michael Bay is not a good director,and his action scenes are terrible to watch,close up's and quick cuts,you really have no idea of whats going on.
    If they would change the Director I would have more hope for Transformers 3,or maybe he did the best with what was given him.
    Still..he's action scenes are really some of the worst I have seen !

  16. Yikes. Sorry Hicks, you and I will likely never be movie going buddies! LOL! Glad you found something to enjoy in the movie though!

  17. I was surprised too, I usually am of the same opinions based on your past reviews, like I said though I am a sucker for SciFi.

    Though I do retract my 'maybe even 4 out of 5' I am settling with a 3.5 on this one.

  18. I saw it and have to agree with Kofi. By the second act, I started getting really bored. And yes, I saw that little so-called trick ending coming from a parsec away. It is a shame because I like both Judd Law and Forrest Whitaker, and they did do fine acting jobs but the movie was just not executed well.

  19. Even in the future Im certain when you're hurt on the job, medical care is covered by whoever you work for (especially by a company which specializes in advanced medical treatment!)

    So, the story itself revolves around a basic major implausibility (never-mind the savage hokey-ness of the repossessions themselves). I also just cant put it out of my mind that here is yet another story about big bad evil corporations. It's so tired and old, it's offensive to even see the advertisements for these kinds of movies anymore.

    I was at least relieved most people havent turned this into a widespread discussion on the health care debate going on in the US, but alas good ole Roger Ebert has chimed in with witty zingers in his obvious support of Commie-Kare. Sigh.

  20. Thank you, Taylor, for bringing a voice of reason to all this.

    And he's a tried and true sci-fi fan, folks. Just an FYI.

  21. Yeah since he agrees with you I guess his opinion is the only one that makes sense. Figures.

  22. Still waiting for you to go see it. But of course you'll probably go in with an overly positive point of view. :)

  23. Whether I enjoy the movie or not is irrelevant to this conversation. It's become more about Kofi and not being able to have a normal conversation without insulting me. But I'll let it go. I just won't comment on his threads anymore. I'm sure he won't care either way.

    And I won't go with an overly positive view because I know nothing about the movie. But I guess that kind of proves my point. Who goes to a movie with a negative point of view. That would just be a waste of time.

  24. Hey vanity,

    If you look through this thread, a lot of people who saw Repo Men were praising the film as being better than I said it was – so I was actually talking to them. Take it personally if you choose to, but dude, I'm not trying to battle with you anymore – BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T EVEN SEEN THE MOVIE!!!

    You've taken shots at me as a critic and questioned whether I'm a movie hater, without truly being able to know if you agree with me or not in regards to Repo Men. Never the best leg to stand on in an argument.

    So if you want to never read my reviews again – fine. I can't help that. But I won't give you the false excuse that it's because I'm “attacking you” due to your uninformed opinion. That ain't the case, my friend. You're simply being hyper sensitive right now. I actually thought we had buried this hatchet.

  25. Blah blah blah, it's all about reading comprehension.

  26. In your case it's about knowing what you're talking about before you spout your opinion everywhere. We're done here. Last word goes to you.

  27. All good. We all have our own likes and dislikes.

  28. Kofi, you are ridiculous. Movies are meant to entertain you. So let me ask you this; were you not entertained and if so why. I was very entertained. Yes the blood splatter was a bit overbearing, but the action was amazing (similar to Ninja Assassin). The final seen at the pink door was awesome (exceot for, as you called it, some ridiculous fetishistic attempt to meld erotic and violent imagery) . I am 17 and can clearly see this movie was intended for kids my age.

  29. I've read mixed reviews on this film but look forward to seeing it with an open mind. I love films like this – that cause all kinds of chatter! I love reading both sides of the story.. I never listen to the critics because they themselves are the worst of all people going to see films… mostly all 1 sided if they are against the 'genre'… here's hoping.. !