Review: “Repo Men” (2010)

repomenjudeblastRepo Men suffers from premature evacuation

An uneven and at times painfully amateurish sci-fi gore drama that has absolutely nothing to do with the cult classic Repo Man, Repo Men is not nearly as terrible as you think it will be … until it is.

And then it isn’t …

And then it is.

Alternating between slyly titillating and crushingly boring, this movie has the up-down-up-down dramatic structure of a porno movie … but when you’re sitting in the theater you unfortunately can’t fast-forward between money-shots.

Jude Law (hey, remember him?!) and Forest Whitaker (wait – really?) are the mismatched, miscast Men in question, and to say that both are above their material is like saying that Gary Coleman is below the tree line. Without a plot of any sort to work with, the two spend most of the movie either talking glibly to one another in a series of bland buddy movie setups (they drink beer! they barbecue!) or doling out extreme violence on their “clients” – namely, those shmoes unfortunate enough to have defaulted on payments for their artificial organs from the Union, who seems to be a bizarre, futuristic amalgam of MetLife, the U.S. military, and the Sharper Image.

repomenforestRun, Forest, run!

For whatever reason it is entirely permissible for these civilian repo guys to carry around tranquilizers and shoot people, harvest their artificial organs and leave them to die, in a world where everything else is pretty much the same as it is now except that all beer bottles are made of aluminum and ads for deodorant feature scenes of torture.

It’s a kind of half-assed future so underthought that it fails to capture the imagination or justify the ridiculous gore that follows, as entertaining as some of it may be. But that’s not altogether surprising when you consider how patently idiotic the script is, start-to-finish.

For example: The movie starts with Law’s character (I can’t even remember his name) typing (shirtless, at least) some sort of memoir about his exploits as a repo man, which he begins with an explanation of Schroedinger’s cat … which is completely wrong. (While Schroedinger’s thought experiment used the impossibility of a dead-alive cat to disprove a way of conceptualizing the inner workings of the atom, here the movie uses the setup to suggest the opposite.) Aaaand it pretty much slides downhill from there.

repomenclientThank you for shopping at Best Buy.

There are a few points where Repo Men is not a complete cinematic abortion. It starts out with slick, sick promise, with a warped sense of humor and a snappy pace. But after the first 20 minutes the movie downshifts to a boring, plotless and preposterous character study rooted in badly-sketched sci-fi (and misunderstood physics). A patently annoying, artificial-organ-happy love interest is introduced about halfway in – through song! Which only serves to make you wonder, “if a person were to replace their voicebox with an artificial upgrade, wouldn’t they pick one that could actually sing?”

Eventually a whisper-thin plot emerges (Law has gone from being the hunter to the hunted!), which the movie then doesn’t even bother to resolve (if you think about the ending – which you won’t – it makes zero sense). A wonderfully gory climactic scene almost makes the overacted, underplotted prelude worth sitting through – particularly if you have a thing for body terror of the Cronenberg school – but the ridiculous denoument knocks the legs out from under things entirely.

repomenliev“Hey, don’t look at me – I just work here!”

I really have no idea what propelled Law and Whitaker to take these roles, but it’s hard to say which performance is more of an embarrassment (Law at least spends a good deal of the movie shirtless, which softens the blow a bit). The movie is just stupid, and not even in a good way – and what’s more, the little acting that the job does require isn’t well done. Liev Schrieber actually comes off best by acting like he doesn’t want to be there to begin with – like his character, he’s just cashing a paycheck – but it’s pretty much a slumfest all around.

While the idea of a future where companies repossess organs isn’t new (Repo: The Genetic Opera did it first … and in song! Ugh.), it is an idea that, if executed properly, could be a fun, gory and twisty ride. Think Surrogates-meets-Existenz-meets-AI. Then don’t think of any of those infinitely more interesting movies, and think about how you can repo the 110 minutes you wasted on this disappointing bloodbath instead.

RATING (OUT OF 5):

ReviewTwoSkully

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Buzz created CampBlood.org in 2003 to meet a need for a safe place for weirdos of all stripes to discuss horror movies from a queer perspective. Now that the campers have overtaken the Camp staff and locked them in the Arts & Crafts cabin he is questioning that decision.