Monday, April 19, 2010

Repo Men: Organ-asmic!

In 2025, a megacorporation called The Union has perfected the creation of artificial organs [artiforgs], which have replaced organ transplants. A potential customer can apply for an organ, which are sold on credit, usually with a large interest rate attached. If the customer is unable to maintain payments after three months, a repo man is sent to the customer to reclaim their property. This of course means that the repo man has to literally cut out the artiforgs from the live body, a process which is often magnificently bloody and would traditionally involve the death of the customer.

Jude Law [Remy] and Forrest Whittaker [Jake] portray the titular Repo Men. Remy is described as the best Repo in the business and is often partnered with his childhood friend and old Army buddy Jake. One repossession that goes wrong finds Remy with an artificial heart that he can't pay for, separated from his wife and on the run from the very people he worked for in this remarkable science fiction action thriller.

Law isn't one of my favourite actors, as I've mentioned before and while I don't think he's particularly impressive here either, he does somehow out-perform Oscar-winning Whittaker in a bizarre twist of talent. Alice [I am Legend] Braga on the other hand out-acts them both as Beth, a drug-addicted and destitute night-club singer with a plethora of artiforgs and internal enhancements. Liev Schreiber sadly displays far more the acting chops he did in Wolverine than Defiance.

I found that I didn't feel too much for the characters on screen as I would like to have and as there there is no clear-cut good and evil structure it's hard to know where to place your loyalties [if you desire to apply moral quandaries to your entertainment]. Director Miguel Sapochnik presents the company in an evil light while those on the run after defaulting on payments are portrayed considered victims. I'm not one to necessarily follow the opinions of a director, preferring to make up my mind about these things for myself and I found that reality was slightly skewed here. The company is all above-board and is well within it's legal right to seek compensation for it's products and repossess them if the contract is broken and the client no longer pays. I say kudos to the company for solving the matter themselves, not going through the legal system which would brand defaulters as criminals and brand their innocent family with the stigma and it additionally frees up time for police and legal professionals to pursue more serious crimes.

Sapochnik may be a director to watch in future. Sequences in this movie are blatant homages to Blade Runner with a little of Robocop, Oldboy and Minority Report. The action sequences are truly phenomenal but while sadly, the amount of automatic weapons fire isn't as much as I desire [the Repo Men are armed with multiple-charged Taser weapons - can't well be damaging the organs they've come to collect] there is some very inventive uses of bladed weapons, a hacksaw and even a hammer. Sapochnik has a true eye for blood, it's colours and textures, just the right amount of it expelling forcefully from the wounds he inflicts on his characters and reacting perfectly on the surfaces nearby. This was old-school cinematic violence unlike the slightly ridiculous comic-book violence found in modern movies like Kick-Ass or 300. If more directors employed this, then I'd have a better time in the cinema. It's also obvious that Sapochnik has a love of music which led to some interesting choices for songs to go with Marco Beltrami's brilliant score.

Final Verdict: Competently directed but badly acted. This is not a movie for everyone but if you like your sci-fi not too deep and can put up with excessive blood then this is for you. Even though it has Law and Whittaker, the real star here is the violence; it's honest, real, visceral - ridiculous in situation but sublime in execution [pardon the pun]. This isn't hard science fiction but an interesting take on the sci-fi/action/thriller pioneered by Logan's Run, continued with Total Recall and capstoned with Minority Report and it has an almost David Cronenberg ending.

Colonel Creedon rating: ****1/2

Footnote: This movie was set to open in the US on April 2nd but was moved up to March 19th. The final vote on Universal Healthcare reform in the Unites States took place on March 25th. Movies pushed back are common; Movies pulled forward, not as much. Just thought I might add that in here.

1 comment:

vaughan said...

ah yes the Violence is sublime unlike the Colonels reaction didn't help that another friend who was with us couldn't stop cackling at the "Sublime" violence ....I was wondering why all the seats around us were empty.