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SPOILERS ARE INCLUDED. THIS IS BOTH A REVIEW AND CRITICISM, SO PLOT
DETAILS ARE NECESSARY.
I find that most people who review this film are hung up on the premise, special effects, gadgets and the many cinematic references. It's my personal opinion that the film uses "artiforg" repossession as a backdrop for the true conflicts, such as the cognitive dissonance we face in certain occupations and/or the desensitization it takes to do our jobs.
For example, we know that Remy was in the military, where dehumanization of the enemy is common practice. If an institution can convince its subjects that the enemy is deserving of cruelty, violent acts are subsequently less difficult to perform on another human being. So, it makes perfect sense that an individual like Remy has been socialized into doing his line of work. It's not apparent to Remy how atrocious his occupation is until he starts to recognize 1) his role in the violence and how it affects other people in his life and 2) what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a system that profits on suffering and loss.
This, in itself, is a commentary on how corporations profit in our society today. Pharmaceutical companies would be out of business if our society had easily accessible cures for modern infectious diseases. It's necessary for a population to treat symptoms rather than solve a problem at its roots. "Artiforg" sale and repossession is the same thing. Thus, as a gear in the machine, Remy has to decide for himself whether or not his line of work is ethical.
That's where the cognitive dissonance comes into play. I think the film did an excellent job of portraying. The metaphor here is are we correct in criticizing corporations while supporting them and working for them (I guess you could say it would be hypocritical then for this movie to be made, mass produced and distributed by a corporation also)? Now, I keep hearing a lot of criticism about the movie once Remy experiences (spoiler) the Neural Net reality (or alternative virtual consciousness) in which he and Beth repo one another, kill Frank, bomb the place and run away to some tropical paradise. All this complaining about the many cinematic references is kind of ridiculous, considering we know that this is Remy dreaming, essentially. Are anyone's dreams completely original all the time? I know a lot of my dreams borrow from movies I've seen. I know a lot of books and movies borrow from other stories, too, which has been the case for centuries. Why is this so criminal now?
But anyway, Remy is (in my opinion) experiencing a fantasy while distracted from physical reality. That was the whole point of the Neural Net product in the first place. It's a means of deterring terminally ill people from experiencing painful deaths and/or soothing retired folks in convalescent homes dealing with prolonged loneliness. Remy's subconscious is borrowing from his vicarious experiences. It's quite possible an individual like Remy has seen movies like Old Boy, 2001 Space Odyssey and The Matrix. Why not?
Anyway, I think this was a great film with a lot to say and it resonated with me quite well. I think what people look for in movies these days spoils a lot of the major ideas. If you get caught up in "the ending" or working your damnedest through copious Google searching to find blurry images of yet unrevealed movie monsters, you're not enjoying movies anymore. You're beating them to death with a spoiled outlook on plot, cinema and characterization. Repo Men is going to be misunderstood, in my eyes, for a long time because of this. Sorry so many of you let that happen.
All in all, I found this movie quite a disappointment. I have a soft
spot for sci-fi, and as several others have commented, Jude Law is a
good reliable actor in sci-fi roles. But this movie seems awkwardly
assembled, not quite thought-out, and a bit too proud of itself to be
taken seriously. Throughout the film, at what seem to be important
developmental points or even plot twists, there are one-liners tossed
out with great sincerity, which in most cases either sound silly,
pretentious, intellectually impoverished, or simply misplaced in this
film. The first scene of the film, for instance, we are given a
summarization of the 'Schroedinger's Cat' experiment, complete with
some of the horrible logic underlying the film--- 'if something isn't
definably dead or alive, then it must be both'. The fact that this
statement shows a misunderstanding of both the scientific and
philosophic merit of the experiment isn't the problem, because even
incorrect junk science can be a good vehicle in a movie. The problem is
that there's no reason to bring this up in the first place. the movie
doesn't tackle whether things are dead or alive, whether being
comprised of 'rented organs' is an crisis of existential definitions or
what have you. The reference is just thrown in there to sound smart, to
seem thoughtful, when the film is anything but. And this sort of pseudo
intellectual posturing contaminates the movie.
The whole film's pace feels quite forced, as well. Jude Law seems underutilized. One can't help but wonder if he got drunk for the majority of the shooting for this film. When his wife leaves him, there's almost no emotion in the scene. When twenty minutes later our hero has decided to dedicate his eternal love to a street girl he finds attractive, there's really no chemistry whatsoever--- but apparently the movie insists that there be a love interest, and so it's just thrown in there, pointlessly. Because even in this day and age, it's apparently impossible to propose a hero character without a token damsel in distress.
Then there's the kind of gratuitous and uncomfortable 'surgical sex' scene. It's apparent that whoever choreographed it thought they were being clever, but the whole thing just seems like an attempt to force some sort of correlation between sex and surgical procedures that really just felt misplaced, and kind of heavy-handed. Granted, it has a purpose within the plot, but it's basically a slice of experimental film amid a sci-fi action flick, and like a lot of experiments, it fails.
There are some positive points to the film. While Jude Law's acting is a disappointment, Forrest Whittaker delivers a solid role. The action scenes are quite good, and while the overbearing presence of music makes some of it feel like a weird music video, it's nonetheless well-choreographed fighting and slashing. Some of the sets are good, although a fair number of sets and sequences seem blatant rip-offs of 'Brazil' (to say nothing of the ending)...
A pretty mindless flick. It's better than watching dust settle on your screen. A prettily-packaged emptiness.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Being summarily clobbered by movie-goers and critics alike, REPO MEN
will obviously not be for everyone. But it will be a great movie for
the right person, and I was obviously one of those "right" people.
So who is this movie directed at and why? Well, it's a combination of a smart espionage thriller in a science fiction setting, with a little comedy thrown in for good measure. This might sound like a recipe for disaster, but it is anything but. But is it right for you? That's a tough call. If you're in the medical field and are concerned about healthcare insurance, it will definitely pique your interest. If you enjoyed such films as KILL BILL and BRINGING OUT THE DEAD, this will be right up your alley.
So why did I rate the film so high? Let's look at it for a minute...
It's topical without being "in your face." It never tells you to believe that private insurance carriers are "bad" and simply shows us a ridiculous possible future where organs are built in factories and everyone who needs a pancreas, a liver, an ear, or whatever, can get one ...for a price. The Union is run by an unscrupulous business man named Frank (Liev Schreiber, DEFIANCE). He's basically a used car salesman trying to get you to sign on the dotted line for organs you desperately need. But make sure you don't miss any payments after you've gotten your new kidney. Why? Because if you don't pay the exorbitant prices and interest rates, your organ will be repossessed. Oh yes, even if it's your heart. How will you survive without it? You won't.
Remy (Jude Law, CLOSER) and Jake (Forest Whitaker, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE) are two of these Repo Men and they're very good at their jobs. With surgical precision, they can track and excise overdue organ owners with gory efficiency. But when Remy is forced to get a new heart and begins falling behind on payments, he begins to see the other side of his previous life.
This sounds like a pretty straightforward premise. A sort of Darth Vader understanding where his son was coming from plot. And that is only partially true. Jude Law does an excellent job playing a badass with absolutely no conscious about ending a person's life if their delinquent on their bill. He is absolutely believable as a disconnected man only interested in money and being a great contract employee for The Union. This is seen early on when we witness him retrieving a liver in a rapid manner, making a beautiful incision and ripping the organ out. He heads to the previous owner's sink, rinses it off, packs it up, and heads out while stepping over the now probably lifeless man. Impressive. The gore is essential here to show the audience exactly HOW disconnected Remy is from humanity.
Jake, his partner, is even further gone than Remy. He enjoys his job so much that he's willing to do anything to anyone in order to ensure he and Remy can keep working together.
In the midst of Remy's life is a relationship that's falling apart and a son who is the only thing that keeps him remotely grounded. But when Remy suddenly needs a heart replacement, things rapidly change. You can see the wheels spinning in the back of his head after he returns to work. Would a Repo Man come after him if he failed to pay? What does it mean to have a piece of metal in his chest where his heart used to be? Does this make him less human? Or, in some bizarre way, does it make him more human? These are questions that are left up to the audience to decide.
The ending was telegraphed just enough to give it a fun twist without coming out of the blue. I kind of picked up on it after a significant fight sequence, and you might to if you pay attention. It is enough of an "a-ha!" moment that'll make some film watchers gasp.
With the current, raw, political climate I think this film was excellently timed to hit the big screen. Think about where our healthcare is going and who you want to control it, and this film will cut into you, too.
When the economic crisis first hit, Clive Owen came out with The
International, a film about an evil bank. With the health care crisis
now in full swing, Jude Law has come out with Repo Men, a film about
evil health care people. Repo Men is good, but seems to have come out a
bit early because this seems like a perfect summer film.
I cannot remember a time when Jude Law was this much fun. Fresh off a turn as Watson in Guy Ritchie's superb Sherlock Holmes, Law plays Remy, who work for the The Union, a company that supplies artificial body parts. If you can't pay for them, The Union sends Remy and his best mate Jake (Forrest Whitaker) after you. They cut you open and take the parts back. Its a bloody good time for all.
Law is such a badass in this film. You would think a role like this would go to Jason Statham, but a renowned actor like Law, who really isn't used to being the badass, plays the part very well. With the amount of blood and violence and quick takes, you would think this flick was made by the Neveldine/Taylor duo. First time director Miguel Sapochnik does the film well, but you'd like to see what an experienced director could do with it.
While Repo Men falls short with some of its blood for the sake of blood scenes and some acting shortcomings (Forrest is good but has too little to do), it makes up for it with Law and its twist ending. Go catch Repo Men. You'll rip your heart out if you don't.
Movies like Repo Men are those that take interesting, even fascinating, premises and butcher them to the point of disfigurement; a bland cookie- cutter version of how the plot could have unravelled. In addition to the obvious plot arc that can easily be surmised from the trailers, any good will built up over the running time is similarly bastardized by a horrendous final twist that is not only nonsensical but cheap. This reveal is not only blatantly alluded to early on but even for those who did not pick up on it will not be surprised by the finale. In yet another paint-by-numbers dystopian future where highly advanced artificial organs are now a reality, we follow two repo men by the names of Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) whose task it is to reclaim said organs from customers who have fallen behind on payments. They gleefully extract hearts, livers, kidneys, etc leaving their former customers on the wrong side of alive. Yet, after an on the job accident leaves Remy himself with an 'artiforg', as they are called, and subsequently is unable to make payments he goes on the run. With the help of a woman who is nearly all 'fake' so to speak (it is eye-rolling developments like this that make up Repo Men) he tries to bring down his former employer with Jake hot on his trail. Thank goodness at the center of it all we get three solid performances from Jude Law and Forest Whitaker as the titular repo men, and Liev Schreiber as their morally defunct boss. Without this trio to ground the movie in some realm of watchability this could have been an unmitigated disaster instead of just a near-disaster. The gore is ample in Repo Men but it appears in all the wrong places. Instead of using the violent repossessions as tentpole instances of shock, they pepper the story with such frequency, everything becomes white-washed (or should I say red- washed) and muted in effectiveness. I will admit, there are some well choreographed, badass action sequences but they can do little to lift the remaining material. Even with these kinetic bursts, the characters at the center are all so unlikable, whether they live or die becomes moot. Are we truly supposed to root for a murderer just because he had a moral epiphany and who in addition cheats on his wife after she condemns his job and then proceeds to abandon her and his son? All this is loosely strung together by a bland and sporadic voice-over which serves no discernible purpose. There are so many unanswered questions floating around Repo Men. What has happened to lead up to this future? What is government like to give this company absolute power to slaughter countless people? And where is the money in selling organs to those who cannot pay anyways? It is questions like these and more that leave Repo Men a vapid and unmemorable vision of the future with little to say about much of anything.
In the future, a lot of people seem to need organ replacements. Why?
The movie asks questions regarding ethics. We may not yet live in the
futuristic setting of the movie but we already have similar ethical
concerns to answer.
Is it right for heart surgeons to recommend surgeries that the doctors KNOW are only band-aid solutions? Is it right for financial advisers/stock brokers to charge you money for performing worse than the market's mindless index funds? Is it right to knowingly sell overpriced crap? A job is not just a job. I thought the premise was excellent. However, there were many strange direction choices and nonsensical events that maimed its brilliance. This is a far better movie than the 6.4 (as of July 2010) suggests. Definitely worth watching.
OK, being a fan of action and mediocre movies in general, i was pumped when i saw the previews for this movie. The film was not quite what i was expecting but was pretty much all i could have hoped for. I knew nothing of the book it was based on going in so i really cant comment on how it compares to the movie. the story was good with great action scenes and at times just plain brutal. this is much more a guy movie than anything else. Go see it, it was really good. The star rating does this film a terrible injustice, this is one of the few times i completely disagree with IMDb. This movie is action packed and extremely entertaining, take it as nothing more than that....
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Now, Repo Men is both extremely good and bad. Even I didn't enjoy the
movie on several occasion, mostly because of the extremely graphic
display of gore and violence. But why is it so good? The ending turned
the movie into a masterpiece. I was stunned that such a micro-twist
could radically change my opinion. But it isn't how complex the twist
was, it is how the viewer's perception of the second-half of the
storyline changed. And that was a big change.
The movie doesn't present itself as a psycho thriller, but as an action-flick. You might end up going in with the wrong expectations. Don't be mistaken - if your a fan of action you will definitely get your share, but it might leave you confused. It takes a little more work to understand the motivation behind Jude Law's character and how he tries to redeem himself, more than the average Joe is willing to provide.
Now if your a fan of Inception (I can't really say I am), a movie that is pseudo complex and artificially deep with stunning visuals (of course?!), you won't get the benefit out of Repo Men. But if you are a fan of philosophy and human nature you should be willing to give this movie a try.
All actors preform very well, I just think that a little British accent shouldn't throw you off too far.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the most important parts of any science fiction movie is
creating a world with internal logic: it doesn't necessarily have to
seem extremely realistic in all aspects but there has to be something
to build on that is at least semi-plausible. I suppose the people who
made Repo Men thought that they could do this by keeping most of the
details close to the world we live in: there aren't that many flashy,
futuristic gadgets in this film. The problem is that there aren't
enough incredible things here to distract from the absurdity of a
future in which "repo men" are able to break into people's houses and
repossess their artificial vital organs on site, more often than not
ending the lives of their deadbeat customers, without any kind of
witnesses or evident due process.
I suppose the film is meant to have some type of political meaning about a society in which banks lend people money on terms that can't realistically be repaid and a government which doesn't offer its citizens basic healthcare benefits but these obvious points generally are ignored in favor of off the wall action sequences with tons of gore. There's one scene where a couple of repo men (played by two actors who deserve better, Jude Law and Forrest Whitaker) find a "nest" of people attempting to flee the country with their unpaid for organs and proceed to violently slaughter what must be at least a couple of dozen people with a variety of (mostly bladed) weapons then cheerfully argue over which man deserves credit for a shared kill.
The increasingly unrealistic action scenes became less and less entertaining as they went on, as did the equally unrealistic and clichéd plot. By the time the film's bloody denouement ended with a character doing something that should have been done much earlier I had long since ceased caring about the film, which made the last twist seem even more superfluous than it did in the hundreds of movies I'd already seen it in.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just watched this movie with my wife, and quite frankly I bought this
movie because of the two actors. This movie could have been about
paints that dries and I still would have bought it, but since it was
science fiction I could not resit.
I liked this movie because it allowed me to think of the ending and the details of the ending. When a movie ends with a typical ending I say, "nice movie, next".
So I read the reviews and have to say they completely missed the point, and maybe they missed the point of SciFi, which is unfortunate. So let me address some of the points made:
1) Too much gore to the point that it all becomes muted. Well guess what that was the point of the movie. Imagine being a repo man, how would you be with respect to leaving people to die? You have to have a certain amount distance and muted feelings. Like Jude says when he talks about the serial killer. The first is the hardest and takes the longest. Thus the first gore is the hardest and the longest, but as the gore picks up you become muted.
2) Believing the epiphany is not hard because the stage was set correctly. Namely up to this point he was always with his friend who had no problems with his job. But if you shake the basic premise then everything else must be questioned and since his wife left him (not the other way around) he had to question everything and he came to a new conclusion. Namely he understood that people were not numbers that could not pay.
3) The plot and arc is not obvious. I watch lots and lots of movies and can guess most movies. But this one was harder. Yes I knew that the neural net had to get their somewhere, but how was the question.
4) Naive ending and too easily brushed over the details. Well guess what another brilliant move because while we don't know it, he is dreaming. And when we dream we see the world like we want to see it. We want to brush over the details. We want to avoid the truth.
In the end I REALLY did like the movie and it kept me wondering...
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