Fri 19 Mar 2010
You might want to close your eyes for this next part.
What if you didn’t have to hope for someone else’s death to get that new liver you’ve been needing since Spring Break on South Padre Island? Well, if the future is anything like that of “Repo Men”, there is a solution. For just hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can get that life saving surgery you need and their friendly customer service department will make sure to find a payment plan that works for you!
Now, in the unfortunate case that you default on your contract, the big corporation responsible for this boon to medical science will send a “technician” over to reclaim their property … by any means necessary. This is where Jude Law and Forest Whitaker come into the film. As two of the top Repo Men (how’d they come up with that title!), they find people who fall behind on their payments, taze them to sleep and cut out the organ/joint/limb in question (they bring their own scalpel so don’t you worry).
Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a film without conflict, and that comes when our protagonist finds himself on the receiving end of a organ and then subsequently has a change of heart (pun intended) about his profession. Failing to come up with the cash required by the credit department, he now finds himself on the run from his former employer.
Law and Whitaker are capably cast here, able to shade their characters not only with the drive and determination necessary for this kind of work, but also with a bit of dark humor about the whole concept (and Law certainly drank his milk and stuck to a training regimen to fulfill the physicality of the role). One of the most interesting aspects to the film is that it isn’t just one genre. There’s a bit of social commentary, some drama, a decent amount of violence and a dose of the aforementioned levity (epitomized when a 9 year-old is capable of performing knee replacement surgery).
Alice Braga provides a sense of heart (pun unintended) to the project and has a good chemistry with Law. And of course, every “evil” corporation has to have a heartless figurehead (okay, seriously sorry about this unintended pun) and who better than Liev Schrieber, whose cold and calm style transfers nicely to the part.
One should know ahead of time that since this is a tale about people who reclaim human organs, there’s a fair bit of blood and ad hoc surgery. If the more grisly elements of TV medical shows keep you from eating dinner, you can be sure that the film isn’t going to help that rushed pre-flick dinner sit well in your gullet. Jude and his brethren carve out people’s innards like a Food Network chef prepares Thanksgiving dinner.
Going past even that line is a scene best described as a sex fetish involving sticking a bar code scanner in holes recently opened up with a scalpel, with only a bit of narcotics to dull the pain. Yeah, the film goes there too.
Contrasting all of the violence and gruesome slicing is an effective contribution from the soundtrack. The film mixes the expected electronic and more progressive beat heavy music one expects in a tale about the near future with some very recognizable standards like Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” and Rosemary Clooney’s “Sway”. Much like the film itself plays with tone and mood, so too does the soundtrack which helped to make the whole production feel like a coordinated effort.
“Repo Men” isn’t for everyone. If blood and the removal of organs make you too squeamish, I’m sure there’s a happy, shiny film playing right next door. However, if you enjoy sci-fi and a bit of violence to go along with your dystopian future chronicles, this might be worth checking out. A 3.5 out of 5, I appreciated that it took a bit of ruminating to work out my feelings about the film overall, even though I saw the ending coming more than halfway through the film.