- Rated R
- Buy the Blu-ray
All photos © Universal Pictures
Reviewed by Will Harris
irst things first: no, it’s not a sequel to “Repo Man.” It’s a valid question, though, as anyone who lived through 1984 and possessed even a modicum of cool at the time will immediately find themselves thinking of that Emilio Estevez/Harry Dean Stanton classic. Better Universal Pictures should’ve gone with the film’s original title, “The Resurrection Mambo.” (If there was anyone over the age of 35 in the studio’s marketing department, perhaps they would have.)
There was a time when it would’ve been laughable to imagine Jude Law as an action hero, but between “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” a few years back and, more recently, his turn as Dr. Watson in Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holes,” darned if he isn’t doing a pretty good job in the genre. Here, he plays Remy, who – as you may have guessed – is a repo man. Not of cars, but of artificial organs. He and his partner, Jake (Forest Whitaker), are two of the best in their field at the uber-corporation known as The Union, regularly popping in and foreclosing on those poor individuals who can’t keep up on their payments. Disconcertingly, their version of foreclosure involves the use of a scalpel and precious little in the way of anesthetic. In the words of Warren Zevon, it ain’t that pretty at all.
Surprisingly, Remy’s biggest problem with the work isn’t the gruesome violence involved in doing a good job but, rather, that his wife (Carice van Houten) can’t deal with it. As such, he’s planning to see about a transfer into the sales department, but while in the process of repossessing the heart of a down-on-his luck R&B producer (played with appropriate lethargy by rapper RZA), Remy finds himself thoroughly defibrillated and is soon in receipt of his own artificial heart. Cue his inevitable realization that he’s been wrong all these years and that those among the population who can’t pay their bills are actually people, too. Equally unsurprising is Remy’s eventual non-payment and his subsequent appearance on Jake’s ‘Organs I Need To Repossess Today’ list. That’s not to say that everything that happens in the film is expected, but I can say no more.
Although “Repo Men” is director Miguel Sapochnik’s first full-length effort, he nonetheless has a background in visually jarring films, having been part of the art department for “Trainspotting,” and with an additional credit as storyboard artist on “A Life Less Ordinary,” there’s little question that he took away a fair amount of insight from the work of Danny Boyle. “Repo Men” borrows liberally in its look from other in-the-not-too-distant-future films like “Blade Runner,” “Robocop,” and “A.I.” (please insert shout-out to Gigolo Joe here), and given the premise, you may find memories of “Johnny Mnemonic” surfacing as well. There’s even a nice shout-out to “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life” if you keep your eyes and ears open. But despite so many familiar points of reference, the proceedings nonetheless come across feeling surprisingly original.
“Repo Men” is not for everyone. Even those who proclaim themselves to be in possession of strong stomachs will find themselves grimacing and shuddering at some of the organ-removal sequences, particularly the ones which occur toward the conclusion of the film. Still, if you like your sci-fi with a touch of dark humor and a fair amount of ass-kicking, “Repo Men” will likely leave you grinning.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
The Blu-ray release of “Repo Men” isn’t exactly teeming with bonus material, but there’s certainly enough here to please fans of the film. Along with a commentary track by director Miguel Sapochnik and writers Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner, the disc also includes a picture-in-picture video track with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, a handful of fictional commercials, and a visual effects montage with commentary by Sapochnik. But the best of bunch is a pop-up feature that offers an overview of the various Artiforgs, including their key attributes and financing options. It’s nice to see that the movie's cheeky sense of humor was carried over to the extras.