May 9, 2011

[Movies] Repo Men (2010)

It's always interesting to note how movies tend to come in sets. It's like that once the project gets the green light, another studio will catch wind of this and will rush a similar project. Thus you get the fluff piece Armageddon versus the more serious depiction that was Deep Impact. Or there was the rather neurotic Antz in contrast to the lighter and much more popular A Bug's Life. The list goes on and on. And this doesn't count the very deliberate efforts by studios like The Asylum, who have taken the art of imitation to an entirely different level altogether.

Regardless of the questions behind the scenes in terms of how information like this gets leaked or shared between writers, studio executives or whatever, it does present us with multiple perspectives on a single topic. This can actually be a pretty good thing since it means that we get to view multiple interpretations of a scene in history or multiple theories around an event - fictional or otherwise. It's the equivalent of multiple writers tackling a single topic, but in a more visual medium. You get what I mean.

So how did this alternate take on the whole organ repossession concept strike me? Well, it's a little hard to say. After all, it's a pretty grim topic when you think about and turning things into an eye-for-an-eye kind of mentality instead of taking something of equitable value seems to be a step backwards in terms of the whole evolution of the barter system into our current methodologies around currency and the such. And trying to take this idea too serious can have adverse affects on your lunch.

Repo Men is a 2010 action science fiction movie directed by Miguel Sapochnik with a screenplay written by Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner. The core source material of the movie is the book The Repossession Mambo written by Garcia.

Actor Jude Law at the 2007 Toronto Internation...Image via WikipediaIn the not-so-distant future, we are introduced to The Union, a company that was perfected bio-mechanical organ technology in replacement of traditional organ transplants. However as part of this development is The Union's right to repossess the artificial organs of customers who fail to make their payments on time. Enter the pair of Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker), two of the best repo men in The Union's employ. Despite their success, Remy's wife has grown increasingly uncomfortable with his profession, thus making him apply for a transfer to Sales.

But things go awry when Remy's very last repo job goes wrong and he wakes up in the hospital hooked up to a machine that is pumping his blood for him. Because of the severity of his injuries, he now needs an artificial heart to survive. Despite his misgivings, Remy agrees to sign the credit agreement that comes with these organs. This changes everything for him and he is unable to perform well at his job knowing that the same fate awaits him should he continue to fail. Thus its a vicious cycle that can only end in one way for Remy - eventually needing to face the repo men himself.

The last time my partner and I had encountered this concept was in the rock horror musical Repo! The Genetic Opera. The use of music (and Paris Hilton) gave it a slightly more comical mood that helped dampen the heavy subject matter a bit, thus keeping things generally fun. This time around we have a movie that's entirely serious and one that wanted to perfectly depict what this kind of a world would be like in all its bloody glory.

One of the things that immediately surprised both of us what how buff Jude Law had gotten for this movie. I mean seriously, what did he do to prepare for this movie? One can't help but feel that they were definitely trying to position Jude more and more as an action start given his propensity to be either shirtless or in a tank top / wife beater throughout the movie. I don't think he was totally effective in this mode and whether its the fault of the actor or the director is anyone's guess. I did appreciate how deftly he manipulated his knives throughout the movie, though. That sort of worked for me.

The movie is REALLY gory. As in, good gods why did they need to show off that much blood? As much as I understand that the director wanted a very realistic depiction of how things would work, this was just way too much for your average person and I felt the gross out factor was too distracting. It definitely affected my ability to absorb and understand the plot, which couldn't have possibly worked in the movie's favor.

As for the story itself, well, most of it felt very disjointed and confusing with the characters just getting thrown from one even to another. It wasn't until the end that things really came around and my partner and I agreed the final plot twist did a lot to salvage the movie, but not necessarily enough to save it.

I kind of feel bad for Liev Schreiber, who played their boss Frank. He seems to be doomed to be playing bad guys now or at least people that you learn to hate in the course of the TV show or movie. Talk about serious stereotyping - didn't he perform the same character on CSI and in movies like Salt?

Kudos to the soundtrack though - the music choices were a tad dated, but definitely well selected.

In the end, Repo Men was painful to watch with insufficient intellectual and emotional payoff to justify all the squirming and cringing caused by the excessive gore fest that was this movie. It gets 3.5 ridiculous ways of cutting out people's organs out of 5 - and note that 1.5 of that score was just for the twist ending.

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