Repo Men

Of course it's easy to talk about the good movies. You leave the theatre still thinking about the film, reminding yourself to let Steve know how good it was, because he'll love it, maybe even wondering when you'll be able to buy a copy to watch at home. And it's easy to talk about the bad movies, too. You want to find someone to vent to about the two hours you just completely wasted, not to mention the cost of the tickets and snacks. Maybe you also want to warn people away. I like to think I've saved a few people from wondering if they should bother to sneak out early, or tough it out to the bitter end just because they paid for it.

Then there are the movies like this one.

It didn't sound all that promising, really. A couple of people pointed that out to me before I went, but I really couldn't face the romantic comedy of The Bounty Hunter, no offense. That's just not my sort of film. But it didn't seem hopeless, either, and I like Jude Law better since he was Watson; and Forest Whitaker and Liev Schrieber are cool. So it wasn't like I was dreading going, except I should have been, as it turns out.

Jude and Forest are the Repo Men of the title, employees of The Union, which isn't what it sounds like. I mean, at first I thought they were from a worker's union like the AFL-CIO. Turns out it's a corporation that makes body parts to help turn people into Cybermen someday. Jude is Remy, though I have to admit I never noticed anyone call him that and I was actually a little startled when the credits rolled and I realized that he had a name after all. Forest is Jake, the school bully who used to beat up Jude. I mean Remy. Now they beat up other people and steal their livers, once the owners of said livers are more than 90 days past due with their payments.

As the movie says, it's terrible for anyone to die while waiting on a transplant list, ghoulishly hoping for someone with their blood type to be killed in a car crash. Clearly, though, what The Union needs is a little competition to help lower prices, considering that just one little kidney will set you back over $500,000. And if your choices are starving to death while living on the street so you can just possibly make the payments; or going on as usual and waiting for Jake and Remy to tranquilize you and yank that shiny little metal thing right back out, suddenly the transplant list doesn't seem so bad. It's clearly supposed to make you think, but the problem was that half the time, people seemed to be buying these things (called antiforgs, though heck if I know why) just because they were there.

Remy, for instance, meets the Bionic Woman (Alice Braga). She's got a new liver and kidney set because her drug habit wrecked the old ones; a new kneecap from a car accident; new eyes with special Chameleon color-change option; new ears (though they didn't say what was wrong with the old ones); and a new voice-box, apparently so she can sing in a bar for a living. It can't be much of a living, though, since her house seems to be an alleyway. As you can imagine, in spite of looking somewhat starved and living in squalor, she's still way in debt for all those parts. My guess was that she had a gentleman friend who was going to pay for it all, then dumped her, but they never explain, and I stopped caring after a while.

Anyway. Remy needs a new heart after a freak accident that happens, with a deep bow to the karmic theory of the universe, while he's trying to repossess someone else's heart (belonging to RZA, here known as T-Bone). And then Remy freaks out. I guess I can see why -- The Union is apparently one giant scam to stick antiforgs into people, squeeze as much cash as possible out of those people, and then yank said antiforgs right back out. They all have barcodes, though, and they never seem to be reused, so I'm not sure how profitable it really is; but Liev Schrieber, as boss Frank ("You owe it to yourself, and to your family,") seems happy enough. He actually objects to people who pay up front, which seems a little odd to me. Granted, you're missing out on the chance for lots of interest payments, but you've got the money in your hands, and that has to count for something.

But Remy's change of heart makes him suddenly very bad at his job, much to Jake's annoyance. Before anyone quite knows what's happening, Remy and the Bionic Woman are on the run, dodging Union raids and airport scanners. Seriously, with all the money they spend on making sure people with unpaid-for antiforgs don't leave the country, I don't see how they can possibly make a profit. But big business rolls on, threatening to smoosh the little guy, just as usual.

Let's go with two and a half out of five. The movie couldn't quite seem to decide if it wanted to be full of dark humor, or just full of blood -- there's lots of that, of course, not to mention the occasional close-ups of forceps and even hands diving into large incisions. Yes, it did get rather icky at times. But the movie just lacked a certain focus, like the writers changed their minds a couple of times -- or more probably, that Hollywood decided the public wants something different this year, and could they just completely redo this half of the script, please? But it is based on a book called The Repossession Mambo, and I have a feeling that's probably better. Check your local library.

Jude Law pointing a gun and looking screaming mad.


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