Remember how I mentioned in my review of The Crazies that, in the right hands, a movie composed of the greatest hits of other movies can be an entertaining, if forgettable, experience? Well, in the wrong hands, you can end up with something like Repo Men.
Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) are repo men for The Union, the near-future’s biggest supplier of artificial organs. Literally, there’s a fake remake of any joint, limb, or tissue you could possibly want. Of course, with those products comes a severe premium. When you can’t pay up, The Union forecloses on you, sending repo men like the two mentioned to zap you with a stun gun and spoon out your expensive, flashy rental. If you die, then you die. It’s your own fault for not paying your bills.
When an accident on the job costs Remy his heart, well… you can guess where this is going. He falls behind on payments and it’s a race for survival as Remy and beautiful artificial organ addict Beth (Alice Braga) try to beat the system before the system beats them.
The problem with Repo Men isn’t that it’s not entertaining. It’s actually amusing, but not in the way in which it wants to be. It’s dumb. Heroically dumb.
The script by Eric Garcia (who wrote the book the movie is based off of) and Garrett Learner is full of goofy lines delivered as well as possible by two talented men who shouldn’t be taking a paycheck role like this. There are some laughs to be found in the dialog, be they intentional or unintentional, but the movie is never really exciting enough to be the action movie they want it to be, not gritty enough to be a gory shocker in spite of a few stomach-churning amateur surgeries, and it sure as hell isn’t smart enough to be the sci-fi movie they’re trying to make it.
When I instantly figure out a movie’s twist ending, then it’s not very twisty. That’s more like stupid. Every plot element reminds me of a different (better) movie, which also doesn’t help much. During the film I counted gimmicks or elements stolen from: Vanilla Sky, The Matrix, Pulp Fiction, Oldboy, Blade Runner, Minority Report, Training Day, and probably a lot more than that.
An even graver sin is that Repo Men is at least a half-hour too long, checking in at a bloated 111 minutes. There are vast sequences of the movie which are just begging to be chopped away, yet they stay in, presumably because a movie needs to be at least 90 minutes long due to some unwritten rule of Hollywood.
The movie lurches from set piece to set piece like a drunkard on two broken legs, thanks to inexperienced director Miguel Sapochnik. The fact that the movie completely telegraphs how it’s going to move from point A to point B didn’t help matters. At least try to surprise me with your stupidity, don’t whack me over the head with it like a clown hammer.
When handled well, this kind of homage-filled flick can be really entertaining, like a greatest-hits album (or that meatloaf I mentioned earlier). When it’s bad, it’s more like a reheated haggis. While the stand-alone parts might be delicious enough (if you like organ meat and oatmeal), the sum total is not terribly appetizing (not that I’ve ever eaten haggis. I don’t have to eat something to know I probably won’t like it).
While Repo Men will make a great subject of mockery some day, it’s not a great movie. The chemistry between the two male leads is pretty much the only redeeming factor. In some aspects, it tries too hard; in others, it doesn’t try hard enough.
Mediocre direction and a bad script can’t be covered up by a rare splatter of gore or a few decent fight sequences.