Monday, March 22, 2010
MEDIOCRE AT BEST
REPO MEN (C+)
I was anticipating the release of this movie ever since I laid eyes on the first trailer. Jude Law, Academy Award Winner Forest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, and a gorgeous foreign actress I absolute adore named Carice van Houten (Black Book) head the cast of Repo Men. After seeing it, I had mixed feelings about my opinion of this film, and that is usually not a problem with me.
Repo Men has an almost identical concept to the 2008 film Repo! The Genetic Opera. The setting for this project is the not too distant future where the medical world is dominated by The Union, a mega corporation that manufactures artificial organs to be sold to most patients on credit because of the astronomical prices for the company's products.
When clients cannot make their payments, a medical repossession team like Remy (Law) and Jake (Whitaker) step in to reclaim the product. The people who need the services of The Union are kept in the dark about the ramifications of defaulting on their payments before signing the contract which is having these repossession men knocking out defaulting clients and forcibly removing their property.
After Remy has a botched removal of a client's heart, he has a....well, change of heart. Remy finally realizes like the horrified audience and his estranged wife (Van Houten) the grotesque nature of removing client's organs which most often causes them death. When Remy can no longer bring himself to do his job, the conflict in the story begins to dominate the narrative. The two best friends Remy and Jake now have conflicting views of their job and are pitted against each other.
Repo Men is full of aspects that work and many others that do not. One feature that dominates and works well is the violence, and it is excessive. At times it is an extreme close up of Remy digging a kidney out of someone's side evoking shock for the normalcy this act is given by the film. Others it is extraordinary fights scenes that include some of the most outrageous executions I have ever seen. A hammer to the skull comes to mind. If you cannot stomach violence, blood, or repulsive imagery, stay away from this movie.
A poorly executed piece to this project was a failure to create more than just two characters the audience cares about. Even with a great actor like Liev Schreiber playing the character of a power hungry two faced corporate man is not well defined, or properly vilified.
When Remy goes rebel half way through the movie he teams up with Beth (Alice Braga) attempting to take down The Union's strangle hold on the medical world. All the circumstances have changed and the movie tries to create a new main character for the audience to sympathize with even through the time line is well into the second act. The instant "love" connection between Beth and Remy also seems more ridiculous than stimulating.
The plot had a clear direction and had decent pace to keep me interested. But by the end I just didn't know if I cared anymore even though I was unsure about how the conclusion would play out. I found a lot of things I did like about this flick, but also a lot that I felt the movie missed on. One extremely aggravating piece from this story was an Asian girl under 10 years-old performing surgery on a mechanical knee in a underground medical center. Huh?
The poorly defined future (besides the vast reach of The Union) seems to blur the future with the past. For how far technology seems to have come (artificial organs), some elements seem out of place in this futuristic world (houses and cars that look like today's models, current day weapons).
Overall, Repo Men will probably not be a polarizing movie that some love and others hate. Most will find it mediocre and others will just dislike it. The positive reviews for this movie are not pouring in (22% approval on RottenTomatoes). The film's finale will make or break people's perception of this movie. When you see it, you will know what I mean.
It is worth a view to see the jaw dropping bloody violence, to get a glimpse of this film's interesting concept, and to see three powerful actors dominate the screen. Even with those things going for it though, I walked out of my screening hardly engrossed with positive feelings for Repo Men that would compel me to tell others to check it out or even desire to see it a second time myself. With all the decent movies currently in the theaters, Repo Men can surely wait til a DVD release to see.
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