Monday, March 29, 2010

Come On, Let's Go Get A Drink

The title has nothing to do with the movie Repo Men. It's a line from the 1984 cult classic Repo Man with Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton as a couple of repo men who reclaim a car that has dead aliens in it. It's actually kind of cruel to be talking about that movie in a review for the new science fiction action thriller Repo Men since the former is a memorable and original movie filled with wit, charm and interesting characters and the latter...isn't.

Judging this movie on the "Three Strikes And You're Out" scale, Repo Men starts off with two strikes. First, it is my least favorite type of science fiction. I am definitely not a fan of stories that take a current trend or topic to a ridiculous extreme. In this case, the extreme is that, in the future, artificial organs will be widely available and ridiculously expensive. They'll be sold to just about anybody on credit but if you lapse on the payments then the company that sells them, the Union, sends out their repo men to kill you and reclaim the organ. This form of brutal murder is perfectly legal and has not caused people to take to the streets and go after Union officials with pitchforks. Strike two for this movie comes in the form of a ridiculous surprise ending I saw coming as soon as what was supposed to be the throwaway remark that alluded to it was uttered.

To avoid the third strike, this movie would have to be really excel in terms of rich characters, entertaining dialogue and memorable action sequences. I'll admit it comes close. Repo Men managed to attract actors who have either won or been nominated for Oscars. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker play Remy and Jake, two childhood friends who grew up to work together as repo men for the Union. Jake feels nothing but heartless joy where his job is concerned but Remy is starting to become disenchanted with the daily grind of having to hack people up day in and day out mainly because his wife doesn't see the sheer awesomeness of it and wants him to transfer from repo to sales. After an on-the-job accident, Remy winds up needing a new heart and becomes a customer of the Union and his cold, money oriented boss played by Liev Schreiber who insists he makes payments just like everyone else. I don't know why. It happened while he was on the job. Don't they have workman's comp in the future? I guess not as Remy falls behind due to the fact that newfound sympathy makes doing his job impossible and from there, hilarity ensues and by that I mean he runs while people shoot at him. Unintentional hilarity really does ensue when Remy and his fellow runner/girlfriend played by Alice Braga make out while they cut each other open in an attempt to scan the serial numbers of their replacement parts to remove them from the Union's system.

The workman's comp thing wasn't the only question I had. Another big one is, "Why don't these people who know the repo men are coming start carrying guns?" You don't even see a real firearm until around 80 minutes into the movie. Or how about, "There's no such thing as civil rights groups who might protest the legalization of murder at the hands of corporations?"

And then there's the ending. Like I said, I saw it coming for about 90 minutes and was dreading it the whole time. It's my least favorite type of ending in my least favorite type of science fiction story and really knocks the movie out of the ballpark of mediocre and into the world of suck. If you must know what happens, mouse over the following block of white text.

At least two reference are made to one of the Union's new products, a neural net that can substitute the functions of a damaged brain. Jake even says that someone who has a head injury or a stroke can be hooked up to it and live the rest of their lives in a happy dream and when Jake said that I thought to myself, "PLOT POINT! PLOT POINT!" There comes a point where Remy is hit in the head and, as you find out at the end, Jake has the Union rig Remy up with a neural net and the rest of the movie takes place in Remy's head including the action scenes in which they take down the Union and the mega happy ending in which Remy, Jake and a bikini clad Alice Braga get to spend the rest of their lives on a tropical island.

Welcome back to those of you returning from spoiler world. You didn't really need to know all that to know that Repo Men isn't very good but I'm sure it helped.

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