Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker,
Liev Schreiber, Alice Braga, Carice van Houten
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 120 Minutes
Release Date: July 27, 2010
“Can't pay for your car, the bank takes it back. Can't pay for your house, the bank takes it back. Can't pay for your liver...well, that's where I come in.”
Film **** (On the pure insanity scale)
I'm not going to lie when I tell you this, Repo Men is a movie that is both reprehensible and indefensible. I'm also not going to lie when I tell you this, that's exactly what I love about it. If thinking highly of this movie makes me a sick individual...well then, I'm sorry.
Imagine a Philip K. Dick story being adapted by Neveldine/Taylor and you'll get a sense of what you're in store for here. It's not everyday that we get a movie that one part intellectual science fiction and one part bloody exploitation picture. And since hardcore R-rated fare is almost non-existent in today's movie system, it's a shame to say, the fact that a movie this unapologetically insane in bloodshed got green lit by a major studio is a cause for celebration in my book.
Based on the book entitled “The Repossession Mambo” by Eric Garcia (who also co-wrote the screenplay), the movie depicts a not-too-distant-future in which organ failure has obtained a cure. A corporation known as The Union supplies metal contraptions resembling any faulty organ that needs replacing, be it liver, kidney or heart. All that's needed is a client's signature on a contract, and then the work is done.
But after a 90 days, if the client has failed to make a payment, The Union dispatches their Repo Men to retrieve the merchandise. Yep, that means confronting the client, zapping them with a stun gun and then cutting them open to remove the organ right on the spot. Let's hope that credit card companies are never inspired to perform similar methods.
Remy (Jude Law) is the best at what he does. It may be a living that requires someone with no soul or morals but, as Remy sees it, a job's a job. His wife frequently asks that he transfer to sales but Remy finds that pointless, as it would be difficult to BS clients on the consequences of buying an organ given the countless repo jobs he's performed.
But Remy soon finds himself on an opposite end someone in his profession would never want to be on. Following a sudden accident during a routine repo job, Remy wakes up on a hospital bed with a newly replaced heart...straight from The Union. Even Remy knows he won't be able to afford the payments, but his boss, Frank (a perfectly slimy Liev Schreiber), needs him to keep on performing his job, making this a very ugly catch-22 like situation.
What's more troubling is that Remy's new heart is having a difficult effect on his job. His hand starts shaking before he even cuts open a client, something he used to do without flinching. It turns out the new organ has given Remy something he never had before; a conscience.
But even more troubling than that is the fact that the one who will be handed the task of hunting Remy down when the time comes is fellow repo man and longtime friend Jake (Forest Whitaker). Jake doesn't want to be the one to perform a repo job on his friend, but then again...a job's a job. The movie builds this dilemma in a neat and interesting way.
The movie is exceedingly well crafted and directed, and I was definitely surprised when I discovered that it was the work of a first timer. Miguel Sapochnik had previously been storyboard artist on multiple films, and had done a number of music videos and short films, but Repo Men is his first jab at a feature length production. He injects the film with the perfect amount of visual style, without letting it overshadow the story and characters.
And for a movie that cost only a mere $32 million, it looks nothing short of astonishing. There aren't as many shots of the futuristic landscape as you might expect in a movie like this, but the production design, cinematography and visual effects are nonetheless solid in presenting this unique dystopian society. The look and design of the interiors of The Union, especially in the climatic action sequence, show remarkable effort from the crew members responsible.
Speaking of the action scenes, they are tremendously riveting. It's a real treat to see serious dramatic actors like Jude Law and Forest Whitaker, both of whom are in the best physical shape of their lives here, show off some truly awesome physical ass kicking skills. And when Law whips out a pair of blades, as well as a couple of other surprise weapons of choice, to take on his fellow repo men at the climax of this movie...all I can tell you is be prepared for some of the best slicing and dicing you will ever see on screen...and if you're a diehard fan of the movie Oldboy, you'll notice the movie paying a subtle homage in this sequence.
In addition to their physical strengths, Law and Whitaker play off each other so remarkably well, and have tremendous fun with their roles. They know exactly what kind of movie they're in and given that both actors normally specialize in more serious dramatic work, it's quite a blast to see them let loose on screen the way they do here. The same can be said of Liev Schreiber, another actor known for more serious work, who gleefully ventures into camp mode for his villainous role, and he's a blast to watch in his every scene.
And though I hesitate to even mention it, the movie does conclude on a most unexpected and surprising note!
At the end of the day, Repo Men is nothing more than the B movie that it strives to be. But since I appreciate when such a movie goes that extra mile in terms of testing the limits of cinematic insanity, a flick like this ends up being near and dear to my heart (no pun intended). Both a serious minded sci-fi and a bloody marvelous exploitation flick, it will definitely get a reaction from all who watch it!
Universal has delivered what is quite simply one of the best looking Blu-ray presentations you will see this year! The film's ultra-slick look really does pay off in the 1080p. There's pretty much an equal balance of brightly lit and darker lit sequences, and both cases look absolutely spectacular. Colors provide quite a visual knockout too, especially when it comes to the color red, which you'll see a lot of! A movie with such a strong visual punch as this deserves a top level HD presentation, and that's exactly what it has gotten!
Though I had seen the movie in theaters, I had forgotten what a fantastic sounding movie this was. The DTS HD mix grabs the attention of your ears right as the opening logos appear. From that point on, we get one hell of a intense piece of HD audio as this film rips through your surround sound system like a knife through the human body (you knew I was going there). The futuristic environment itself provides endless moments of stunning surround sound pick up, and the hardcore violence provides some fantastic payoff as well. The soundtrack for this movie is brilliant in both arrangement and performance, as songs by the likes of Method Man, Rosemary Clooney, Beck, Nina Simone and Unkle (whose song “Burn My Shadow” is used to pure perfection during the big action climax) are delivered through the channels in a form that can only be described as magnificent! Definitely a front runner for best sounding Blu-ray release of the year!
Universal is always known to honor most of their Blu-rays with a noteworthy amount of extras, which this release certainly has. First off, both the Theatrical and Unrated versions of the movie are included. The Unrated version, which runs about eight minutes longer and is definitely the more bloody of the two, is therefore the obvious version to go with. Exclusive to the Blu-ray, and one of my favorite extras around, is the U-Control feature which on here includes two interactive tracks. The first is a Picture-in-Picture presentation featuring interviews with cast and crew members that are spaced perfectly throughout the movie. The second is Artiforg Tech Specs, which offers plenty of info on the various artificial organs as seen in the movie. Among the remaining extras is a commentary track with director Miguel Sapochnik and screenwriters Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner, which is very much an engaging listen in addition to being evenly balanced between the three. There's also eight minutes worth of Deleted Scenes, a brief featurette titled “Inside the Visual Effects” and a collection of commercials for The Union, which are most clever.
Repo Men is, if anything, one of the most brilliantly repulsive movies I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Dissed by one stuck-up critic too many and ignored at the box office during its theatrical run, this is a movie that is entirely deserving of a cult status, which it will hopefully gain as a result of getting discovered through this outstanding Blu-ray release!