Movie Review: 'Repo Men' an operation in gore
As a piece of grisly Grand Guignol horror, “Repo Men” is gut-wrenchingly effective and as visually arresting as a ghastly car wreck.
As a dystopian rant on the ethical uncertainties of medical engineering and the greedy practices of big insurance, the movie is bloody silly.
This over-the-top action-thriller, directed by former storyboard artist Miguel Sapochnik, is set in a chilling future where medical science has devised ways to prolong human life. And, as naturally follows, corporate sharks such as the one played here by Liev Schreiber have concocted ways to squeeze every last penny from those suffering and dying.
Jude Law (lean and mean) leads a top-notch cast in the role of Remy, a coldhearted “repo man” in the employ of The Union, a giant biotech company that markets dazzlingly sophisticated and very expensive mechanical organs — hearts, livers, lungs, you name it. The company chief, Frank (a particularly oily Schreiber), pushes with a car-salesman’s zeal to close each sale, regardless of the patient’s ability to keep up with hefty payments.
When organ recipients inevitably fall behind on their payments, Remy or his lifelong friend and cohort Jake (Forest Whitaker) are dispatched to reclaim the company’s property, with extreme prejudice. Scenes of these brutal, scalpel-wielding repossessions are definitely not for the squeamish.
But Remy has a change of heart, so to speak, when an on-the-job accident turns him from employee to reluctant client, one with a mechanical ticker beating in his own chest. The obvious paradox here is that when Remy literally loses his real heart, he transforms from a cold-blooded mercenary into a passionate advocate for patients’ rights. Further irony is heaped on when old pal Jake is sent to repo Remy’s heart.
Remy’s transformation to empathetic human being takes on queasy romantic vibrations when one of his fellow delinquents-on-the-run turns out to be the beautiful nightclub singer Beth (Alice Braga), a virtual Frankenstein’s bride kept alive by a half-dozen synthetic organ transplants whose payments are long past due.
The premise of the script by writers Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner is startlingly similar to that of an aggressively tasteless 2008 musical gore fest titled “Repo!: The Genetic Opera,” which shared a similar organ-transplant-repossession story line. That movie overreached for gruesome laughs and strove too obviously for a “Rocky Horror”-style cult vibe.
“Repo Men” (not to be confused with that genuine 1984 cult gem “Repo Man”) contains winning touches of black humor but generally takes itself much more seriously. Its heavy-handed philosophizing on the cold calculations of corporate profits versus every person’s right to quality health care might strike some as pertinent in our current political climate. But that reading seems cynically at odds with the film’s zestful wallowing in ultra-violence and gore for gore’s sake.
“Repo Men” tries to startle us with a clunky alternate-reality ending that rings hollow and simply points up the film’s attempt to have it both ways — to offer a significant story on corporate-medical ethics and to shock us with outrageous displays of virtuoso butchery. It’s a movie conceived with a mechanical heart and brain.
— Dennis King
Starring: Jude Law, Liev Schreiber, Forest Whitaker and Alice Braga.
(Strong bloody violence, grisly images, language, some sexuality/nudity)
Similar Story Folders
Story Folder Log
03-17-2010 11:51 AM The text item ‘m19-repo’ has changed state to ‘Copy editing’.
03-17-2010 11:43 AM Content item ‘m19-repo’ has been created.
03-17-2010 11:43 AM ETriplett has been assigned to text item ‘m19-repo’.
03-17-2010 11:43 AM Story folder “m19-repo” has been created.
‘Repo Men’ an operation in gore
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 24190Oklahoma baseball: Joe Simpson 'thrilled' that Sunny Golloway left OU
- 13456Classen School of Advanced Studies valedictorian disappears while hiking with family in Ecuador
- 11113Tom Ward is out as SandRidge's CEO
- 10453UPDATE: I-40 reopened at Shields after fatal wreck
- 7895Oklahoma State football: A stunning success story at the box office
- 6976Oklahoma State football: Mike Gundy lifts Wes Lunt restrictions, but too late
- 6568Prosecutors say stolen car was at heart of 2011 fatal shootings in Oklahoma City
- 6301Get App-y: Google Glass to offer heads-up computing
- 6165Team Blake's Danielle Bradbery wins "The Voice"; The Swon Brothers finish in third place
- 4992Will Oklahomans get on board with new water toy?
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients