May 23, 2010

We get yet another look at a scary dystopian future in Repo Men, a sci-fi thriller that attempts to make a political statement about corporate greed and the appalling state of healthcare in the world.

The movie is set in the year 2025 when organ donors are a thing of the past and manufactured organs can be purchased from a company called The Union. The organs boast great functionality, and although they seem like the answered prayers of every dying person, they come with a cost. With payment plans and double-digit interest rates, these goods have a high price tag — and if the price isn’t paid, you may as well be dead.

Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) are two employees who work for The Union. Called repo men, their job is to repossess the organs in the event that a client fails to pony up the dough in time. By tasering their prey, they swiftly use their occupational tools to remove the organ, often leaving their ex-client dead. The repo men work quickly, methodically and without emotion. Remy’s wife constantly reprimands her husband for his distasteful job, wishing he would take up a more honest sales job with his weasely boss, Frank (Liv Schreiber). But this falls on deaf ears, until one fateful day, Remy gets into an accident.

He wakes up in a hospital with an artificial heart pumping inside him and, of course, this is a heart he can’t afford. Suddenly feeling sympathetic towards all the clients he ruthlessly dealt with previously, he finds it difficult to keep doing his job with the same vigour. Soon, Remy finds himself amongst the hunted, along with another woman (Alice Braga). The movie instantly picks up pace here, as the two convicts run for their lives, giving us a few enthralling suspense-filled and comic-book-type action scenes.

Repo Men’s run time is unnecessarily long, and much could have been chopped to tighten the plot. The movie has its virtues, including some great visual production and lots of humour, but somehow it fails to make the point that it so desperately tries to. Even though several premises, such as inflated interest rates and corporate corruption, are hit upon several times in the movie, the satire is easy to miss, and Repo Men simply comes across as another violent science-fiction fantasy flick that must be taken at face value in order to be appreciated by its audience. Disclaimer: Watch it only if you can stomach a whole lot of flying blood and gory sequences.

This article originally appeared in the print version of Newsline as “Repo-rama”.