Man, it would suck to have your liver ripped out.
But for Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forrest Whitaker), taking livers-and hearts, and lungs, and kidneys for that matter-is just business as usual. They are, after all, repo men, though not of the automotive variety.
Set in the near-future-we’re not told exactly when, though we do know it’s far enough that Fast and the Furious X should be in theaters soon, according to one digital billboard-a company called The Union has pioneered the development of artificial organs and made them available for consumers who may be unlucky enough to need such a thing. Need a new heart? Check. Punctured lung? Got that, too. They even have eyes, ears, and knee caps, all available . . . for a price. And therein lays the premise for this film, director Miguel Sapochnik’s first feature-length motion picture. (How does a first-time director get to helm a $32 million film, anyway? Oh, Hollywood! You are such a rascal.)
Just like your car, boat, or that big screen TV you unwisely financed at the rent-to-own store, The Union’s property is exactly that until you’ve paid your bill in full. And at almost one million dollars it might be a while before you’ve closed the account. In the meantime, don’t dare to pass the 90-days-late mark or else one of the company’s repo men will be on their way to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
Remy is a true company man and loves to do what he does. He’s been with his partner Jake, in one form or another, since he was in grade school and, after a stint blowing stuff up as tank operators in the Army, they landed jobs together working for The Union. However, after a job goes wrong and Remy finds himself waking up from a coma with a Union heart and the bill to go with it, he finds that, well . . . his heart’s just not in his work anymore (oh, pun intended, guilty as charged!). Suddenly he realizes that “a job’s not just a job” and that these people whose organs he’s repossessing-or killing, really-are human beings with families, friends, and goals and dreams. And before he knows it, he’s behind on his own bill and on the run.
The film takes itself surprisingly seriously. Along the way philosophical and scientific questions are examined-like the mystery of Schrodinger’s cat-and Sapochnik seems intent on earnestly delivering a morality tale about the value of human life. Even the action, which one might expect to be campy and comic bookish, is brutal and bloody, with a body count that rises faster than a democrat’s blood pressure at a KKK rally. In one climactic and beautifully choreographed scene, Remy’s enemies are put to death with bullets, knives, an axe, a hacksaw, a meat cleaver, and his fists, all within a span of about two minutes. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s a whole lot of fun.
Jude Law is perfectly cast as Remy. If there was any doubt before about whether he can do action, that doubt has quietly packed its bags and moved on to other actors. He’s perfectly believable as the Jason-Bourne-esque-but-with-English-sensibilities-and-living-slightly-in-the-future re-possessor of bodily organs. Likewise, the underrated Forrest Whitaker does a fine job as his semi-insane partner, causing one to wonder why he’s always kind of flown under the radar throughout his career. If there’s a surprise here, though, it’s Alice Braga, who plays the beautiful lounge singer and Remy’s new partner on the run. She’s charismatic and lovely.
Repo Men‘s sin is that it slows down in the middle. It’s best to just look at this positively and recognize it as Sapochnik’s eager attempt to give the audience ample time for watch checking and daydreaming. Once it gets over this hump, however, it’s redlined into the satisfying conclusion and you walk away recognizing it for the thoughtful and fresh movie that it is.