Alright, beetches. First things first. Repo Men is slow and poorly-paced, its characters don’t have any clear motivation, it’s overly and at times unnecessarily violent and the words “Alice Braga” and “leading lady” should never be put together in the same sentence (unless it’s part of an ironic joke). But you know what? All that other stuff aside, you just might like it.
I’ll give the movie some credit for having a (semi) original premise. I’m not sure if I can count Repo! The Genetic Opera. Paris Hilton is in it, but then again so is Paul Sorvino, so I’m kind of torn. Anyway, Remy (Jude Law) is a repo man for The Union, a mega-corporation which manufactures, among other things, artificial organs people use when their own fail. Because The Union charges exorbitant interest rates, people usually fall behind on their payments, and that’s where Remy and his ilk come in. If you’re truant on your bill, he hunts you down and takes back The Union’s property.
After suffering a heart attack on the job, The Union gives him a brand new, top-of-the-line heart, a pat on the back, and send him back out into the world. His boss (Liev Schreiber) expects him to go back to work like nothing’s happened. Remy tries getting back on the horse, but something’s different now. He finds that he can no longer treat the people he’s collecting on like they’re anonymous strangers. I guess you could say that he’s had a…change of heart? Save me from myself. Anyway, after falling behind on his own payments, Remy goes on the run, and The Union sends none other than Jake (Forest Whitaker), his former partner, after him. How’s it all going to turn out? We don’t know, but I bet a lot of people are gonna die.
The bad stuff first. So Remy’s got a brand new heart that he’s having trouble paying for. Now he realizes that he’s just like all the people he’s hunting down. It makes sense when you write it all out, but really seems like a magical conversion when you see it on the screen. It’s not so much the fact that he makes the conversion, but that he makes it so quickly. It’s his first job back and he’s already questioning what he’s built his entire life around. It felt a little unauthentic. And while Remy is doing that, Jake is so fanatic about the whole thing that you get the idea there’s another story there the movie isn’t telling. Secondly, it was about an hour into the movie before I realized that Remy still wasn’t running away from anything. The entire movie is laid out in the commercials, so why must it tease us so when we’re actually there watching it?
Still, there were several things I liked about the movie. I’m trying to think of a movie that Jude Law or Forest Whitaker could possibly screw up, and I’m coming up short. Well, maybe Alfie. But here the two have a good chemistry together. That’s a lot more than I can say for Alice Braga and, well, anybody. With her, it’s hard to put your finger on what you don’t like about her performance. The entire thing just feels wrong. If you’re casting a love interest for Jude Law, the first person who pops into your mind isn’t a, what, sixty year old woman? For the tone of the movie, she just wasn’t a very good fit. The movie’s other big player is Liev Schreiber, who reminded a lot of Sabretooth from Wolverine, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He plays the jerk well, and scenes with him bring some comedy into the movie.
So Remy goes on the run and The Union says Jake to reclaim his heart. That means that the second half of the movie is spent watching bodies hit the floor. A lot of this is expected. After all, this is a movie about two guys who take back people’s organs. There’s a point at which it becomes a little overKILL (zing!), but I still think that it works for the world and group of characters in the movie. Honestly, I could see Repo Men as a series of books or a pulpy science fiction show. I think there’s a lot of territory to explore in this world, and we don’t necessarily need to throw all the cards on the table with a single film.
Repo Men wraps up with a twist ending that comes so out of left field that, if I hadn’t liked the movie up until that point, it seriously may have made me change my mind. I’m not sure whether it’s trying to set one up or not, but I could see the entire thing leading into Repo Men 2: The Reapening. Only time and box office returns will tell, so we’ll have to wait and see. If you go into the theater knowing you’re not going to see There Will Be Blood, I think you can have a lot of fun with Repo Men. Your wife? Well, she’s a different story. B