Saturday 17 April 2010

Review: Repo Men

Year: 2010
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Screenplay: Eric Garica, Garrett Lerner
Starring: Jude Law, Forrest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, Alice Braga

Synopsis is here

Loud, bloody and gratuitous, Repo Men was something I expected to get nothing out of and came out with an idiotic grin on my face. It has all the low, brainless, expectations that a film like this would bring but managed to squeeze out some interesting elements due to it's well as the standard, beer with the mate fueled action that you must have with this sort of thing. Genre expectations and context eh?

Repo men had it's fair share of detectors before it even left the block as it's plot apparently shares a few similarities with Repo! The Genetic Opera, which of course has similarities with Equilibrium which reminded people of Fahrenheit see where I'm going with this? While I understand why fans and makers of Repo! should be more than a little frustrated, it's very easy to see why the studios bulked at Darren Lynn Bousman's vision but were ok with something a little more straightforward. Hopefully, the stars will align and more people will watch Repo! even if it is to compare the film with this one.

Despite being a sci-fi action flick, what made Repo Men work for me is the buddy chemistry that occurs between Jude Law's (Remy) and Forrest Whitaker's (Jake). It's the friendship between the two that kept the interest up and drove the movie forward for me. Credit is due to the performances because I did really dig both Law and Whitaker. Law is always more interesting when a bit scuzzy, while Whitaker's presence and general likability. Their blue collar brother relationship is so smooth, that even when they're BBQing for bikers (Whitatker's Jake forever focused on the job in a gory sequence) it gives the film a reasonable grounding.

Grounding it certainly needs for it's interestingly timed high concept. The films "price of life" themes aren't very stretching, but the OTT aspect of it all has a certain appeal. The idea that these artificial organs not only cost the price of a house but with an APR that would make a banker blush is one thing, it's made even more amusing when you find out that it's Liev Schreiber (on oil slick form) that's selling these things. It's those tiny little moments that make the film quite appealing. That is until the introduction of the cumbersome love interest.

Alice Braga stumbles into the sci-fi and the film shifts from a silly but fun sci-fi satire into even more standard affair. But while the first hour had moments that stood out well enough on it's own, the introduction of Braga's bionic woman bogs the film down into "get character A to B territory". The punches and kicks do have that solid feel to them, but they restrict the film down a narrow and familiar path. You get the feeling more can be done with the material than what transpires, and while the ending is ballsy enough to not be as neat as it could be, the lead up to it is pretty forgettable...although the soundtrack is nice.

Despite it's flaws however, Repo Men did enough to keep my eyes open before it ran out of steam. Those who enjoyed Equilibrium may find some something in this, however those who like their sci-fi a bit hard may have to go else where.