From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Repo Men - C

Rated R for for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language and some sexuality/nudity, 111 minutes

Entertaining, muddled "Repo Men" lacks heart

There’s an old religious saying along the lines of “the Lord gives and takes away.” You may feel that way about the new science fiction adventure thriller “Repo Men.” On one hand, it’s an entertaining, tense futuristic drama but on the other it’s a bit of a muddled, contrived affair, particularly a wildly confusing ending that comes out of nowhere. Interestingly enough, for a film about artificial organs, it lacks heart.

In a near, alternative future, humans can prolong their lives with artificial organs that can be purchased on credit from the mega-giant corporation known as The Union. The downside to these small, pricey miracles is that if you can't make your payments, the vital organs are taken back by highly skilled repo men with no care for human comfort or survival. Remy (Jude Law), a top-notch repo man, who suffered a heart attack while on the job and has been given the company's state-of-the-art heart-substitute along with expensive installments.

As Remy is unable to keep up with the financial responsibilities, The Union sends out their heaviest authoritarian and Remy's former partner Jake (Forest Whitaker) to find him. Remy meets Beth (Alice Braga) who instructs him on how to disappear from the system. Beginning is a chase that ensues across a land inhabited by strange friends and enemies with one, who will be a hero for the countless who seek a way out.

“Repo Men” is a bloody, uneven exercise in futuristic drama, with parts “Blade Runner” and parts “Children of Men” on the surface level. Based on the novel "The Repossession Mambo" by Eric Garcia that inspired the film, the stunning production design and action sequences highlight the film, peppered with some enjoyable, bloody fight scenes. However, the script, and really the movie itself, shows what happens when you take an intriguing premise and wrap it up as an overly conventional action thriller. Some of it works well, especially in the film’s early parts, but is unevenly handled by director Miguel Sapochnik, and its contrivances throw the film off as it heads into a twisty, violent final act.

The handsome, lithe Law (“Sherlock Holmes”) is a fine action hero and he’s well-teamed with the low-key Whitaker, who hasn’t lived up to his potential following his Oscar win a few years ago for “The Last King of Scotland.” More memorable is distinctively-voiced Liev Schreiber (last seen in “Wolverine”) in a small but key role as the slimy head of the sales department of The Union who’s charging exorbitant prices for artificial organs ($650,000 at 18% interest, wow). Alice Braga (“I Am Legend”) emotes well in a warm role as Remy’s other lover who has numerous artificial parts, though their romance is one of the movie’s biggest contrivances given the urgency of Remy’s situation.

“Repo Men’s” most memorable scenes are two its fight scenes involving Law and Braga, one in a tight, closed-door room and the other as they literally bring down a hallway full of people near the film’s climax. The blood and body count is enormous, and you won’t soon forget them, even if the rest of the film doesn’t flow as smoothly. “Repo Men’s” surprise ending would pack more wallop and have more relevance if the film could somehow coherently tie its pieces together, which it doesn’t do well (and without giving too much away, you might feel a little cheated).

“Repo Men” is modest entertainment that may please sci-fi fans clamoring for a post-“Avatar” hit, and to its credit there are a handful of well-placed action scenes, but the sum of its parts doesn’t add up to the great film it aspires to be.