Repo Men

Dir: Miguel Sapochnik
Star: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Alice Braga, Liev Schreiber

Sheesh, you wait decades for a film about collection agencies for body organs, then two come along at once. Well, "at once" is a bit of a stretch: The Genetic Opera opened in November 2008, while Men came out 16 months later, but it's still kinda weird, though all the evidence is that the two projects were developed independently. While the tone is different - no songs here - the setting is almost idential: in a dystopian future, people who buy replacement organs, then fall behind on the payments, will have them repossessed. Both films follow one such repo man; in this case, it's Remy (Law), whose wife wants him to get a nice job in sales instead, though partner Jake (Whitaker), wants him to continue. An incident during a repossession leaves Remy owning an artificial heart, but renders him psychologically incapable of continuing. He falls behind on his payments, and meets Beth (Braga), a lounge singer who is in default on multiple organs; eventually, Jake comes after him, and Remy comes up with a plan to free everyone from the tyranny of organ repo.

Outside of the concept, it's probably Kurt Wimmer who should be aggrieved more than Darren Bousman, as on multiple occasions, I turned to Chris and say, "Equilibrium." In tone and central characters, there's a lot more in common there. Law, like Christian Bale, plays an enforcer, who decides - partly through contact with a woman who lives outside the law - that he must rebel and bring down the societal structure which empowered him, leading to an assault on its headquarters. This leads to a strong sense of deja-vu, though Law cuts a more impressive figure as an action-hero than I'd have expected, and credit is due for including a snatch of him watching The Meaning of Life, and its "Live Organ Transplants" sketch. Otherwise, despite certainly not stinting on the gore [not least at the end, which is the most twistedly romantic scene since Crash], this fails to generate any real reaction to the characters of their plight, and is largely forgettable. Love it or hate it, you probably can't say that about R!TGO.

[March 2011]

Repo man's always intense
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