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  Repo Men Plate O' Shrimp?
Year: 2010
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Stars: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Alice Braga, Liev Schreiber, Carice Van Houten, Chandler Canterbury, Joe Pingue, Liza Lapira, Tiffany Espensen, Yvette Nicole Brown, RZA, Wayne Ward, Tanya Clarke, Max Turnbull, Howard Hoover, Robert Dodds, John Leguizamo
Genre: Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the future and mankind wears out their organs a lot faster than they do today, so there is a lucrative line in supplying mechanical replacements established by big business. And with that comes another angle, as if the patients cannot keep up the payments on the organs the Repo Men will track them down, incapacitate them, then remove the transplant, leaving the recipient to fend for themselves and likely die anyway. One of these men is Remy (Jude Law), who works closely with his partner Jake (Forest Whitaker) who he has known since school; they like their jobs, but for how much longer?

There's a little cult movie released a couple of years before Repo Men, though based on a stage play produced some ten years or so before, called Repo! A Genetic Opera whose fans were much aggrieved when this big budget sci-fi blockbuster was released, apparently because they felt this was a rip-off of their beloved movie seeing as how they both contained the premise of repossessing organs. Fair enough, there was a similarity, but not enough to take legal action, however this wasn't the only work that appeared to have been an inspiration to the makers of Repo Men, as the basic plot owed a lot to Logan's Run.

The whole premise of an enforcer of the law finding himself on the other side of that law and being hunted down for termination by his old friend, with the rules revolving around a science fiction situation and a runaway woman who becomes his romantic companion was very reminiscent of the seventies cult favourite, though that was substantially better known than Repo! A Genetic Opera, and when you got down to it, was, for all its tackiness, a more enjoyable experience than this as well. As the writers threw in references to Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (the live organ donor sketch), Oldboy (the corridor battle) and even lifted the ending of Terry Gilliam's classic Brazil, the feeling of old wine in new bottles was hard to shake.

Of course, as time goes on you're bound to see parallels and influences between various movies, and true originality is not exactly abundant in the film business, so it's really what you do with those ideas that counts. Will you brush them up fresh as a daisy or does your production end up seeming careworn through overfamiliarity? Can you tiptoe that fine line between homage and simply taking what you want a lot more blatantly and less subtly? In this case, the answer would appear to have been "no" as from its Blade Runner cityscape opening to its failure to pull off the poignancy of the Gilliam work there was so much here done better elsewhere that it was difficult to see why you would spend time with it.

Anyway, the plot saw Law grin then wince his way through his character arc from enthusiastic Repo Man (no surprises in the back of any cars here, mind you) to a mishap while at work which has him receive his own artificial heart and thus a different perspective on his life, a life which has estranged him from his shrewish wife (Carice Van Houten) and young son. That said, the missus seems perfectly reasonable in her misgivings, never mind that the precise grounds for this mass organ transplanting are not explained in the slightest, and we cannot perceive any motive for it as nobody here comes across as hugely unhealthy. There are the odd moments of novelty such as the nine-year-old surgeon (she has steady hands, we're told), but overall this plods along from angst to matey philosophising to action scene as if the whole film had been concocted by the ScriptBot 2000, if there is such a thing. Only the positively odd manner of saving the heroine (Alice Braga) is arresting, though not because it was a good idea. Music by Marco Beltrami.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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