Film Reviews

REPO MEN

By • Mar 25th, 2010 •

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It’s our introduction to the extreme, grisly filmmaking style of Takashi Miike and Chan-wook Park. Worth seeing through your fingers.

REPO MEN goes beyond horror mining the extreme style of Japan’s Takashi Miike’s 2001 film KOROSHIYA 1 (ICHI THE KILLER) and his 1999 film ÔDISHON (AUDITION). In fact, it lifts a carnage fight scene right from South Korea’s Chan-wook Park 2003 film, OLDBOY.

Steven Spielberg and Will Smith want to remake OLDBOY, but without the incest? What’s up with that, pray tell? How will they explain the main character being locked up in a hotel room for fifteen years? What will his crime be? Insider trading? Cutting in line at a supermarket?

The premise of REPO MEN is brilliant and inevitable: In the future, diseased organs will be easily replaced by small machines. It is what we all want – long life guaranteed by having new, perfect artificial organs. Problem is, they are very expensive.

The company manufacturing the organs, The Union, has a very generous sign-up program. If you fall behind in your payments, and practically everyone does, the company sends out Repo Men to find you and, without anesthesia, take back their property. Unfortunately, the Repo Men only do the extractions, not the immediate life-saving care.

Apparently there are so many people with artificial organs that the numbers are in their favor. The Union can’t do extractions on everybody. And the Repo Men have to find you first.

So, most people cannot afford the new organs but selfishly sign up anyhow. Isn’t this the reason for the collapse of the housing market? Put no money down, get a house, and then be unable to pay the high mortgage. Not everyone deserves a house or, in REPO MEN, a new lung.

Repo men Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) do the dirty work, which appears not to pay very well. Remy’s estranged wife Carol (Carice van Houten) keeps nagging him about money. The man handing out the “repossession pink slips” is Frank (Liev Schreiber), who is only interested in signing up clients and then re-claiming the product. Using the same organ over and over again – what a genius concept! It’s a moneymaker.

Remy wants to get out of the repo business and Jake is very upset. Jake is far too emotionally attached to his partner – it’s a homoerotic subtext that seems to follow Law around in so many movies. Then, when a faulty unit sidelines Remy and he needs a heart transplant, he has to redouble his efforts to make payments. But his “heart” isn’t in it anymore.

The Union has no employee package. Remy can’t make his payments and he has to run underground just like thousands of other people.

Remy meets a singer Beth (Alice Braga) who has had nearly every organ replaced: a heart, a liver, an ear, and a knee. Some surgeries have been done by a black market “surgeon” who happens to be 8 years old.

The twists and plot are imaginative. I liked it and thought it was very well done. The director, Miguel Sapochnik, has certainly done his homework on pushing the horror knob. The extractions are shown and it is gruesome.

Law steps outside his comfort zone and ably enters the action star genre. Whitaker does a fine job but why the adoration of his partner? Does Law need to be loved by all his co-stars? Is it in his contract, or is he just lucky?

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