Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Repo Men

Kerry Hayes/Universal Studios

Review in a Hurry: In a chaotic near-future, Jude Law is tasked with forcibly removing artificial organs that have not been fully paid for, until, inevitably, the tables get turned and he finds himself with a replacement heart—and a lack of funds.

An interesting enough premise, but the movie is never able to find the right tone, and frankly, Law's character kinda deserves the karmic payback he's fleeing from.

The Bigger Picture: Repo Men creates a seemingly compelling world up front, only to frequently leave its characters stranded in the most boring parts of it. We're given hints of many global wars and financial breakdowns, primarily, so it seems, to satirize both our recent economic woes and current health care debate.

Law's Remy and Forest Whitaker's Jake are the best at what they do: two former elementary-school rivals and combat brothers-in-arms, now in the employ of a company called The Union that sells ridiculously expensive artificial organs with one hand while sending out a painstakingly precise squad of mutilators with the other, after the absurdly steep payments are inevitably defaulted upon.

Remy is meant to come across as an everyman doing a dirty job somebody has to take care of, but Law is miscast. He's too cold, too precise, and it's tough to root for him when he's laying the smackdown on "criminals" who, quite understandably, simply wish not to be disemboweled.

And once he gets a heart transplant of his own following a freak accident that may not be so accidental...well, if this were the Twilight Zone, the episode would end right there in simple irony. But there's a good hour or more left in this story, as Remy tries to avoid the appropriate punishment and hooks up with a sexy, drug-addicted lounge singer (Alice Braga).

The setup suggests pitch-black satire, but the movie is terrified of laughing at itself. Were the action set pieces consistent, even this would not be too much of an issue, but long stretches of waiting for something interesting to happen are the norm here. And when it does, you'll usually find you remember it from a better movie.

The obvious antecedent here is Repo! The Genetic Opera, a cult horror musical with a very similar premise, but there are blatant cribs from Crash (the David Cronenberg one...and the Paul Haggis one, too, come to think of it), Oldboy and Brazil, too. If you haven't seen any of the movies mentioned so far...aw, hell, you'll probably still find parts of this boring. It's just shy of two hours, but feels like three.

The 180—a Second Opinion: The casting of Liev Schreiber as a weasely bureaucrat may be obvious, but it's also perfect.


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