After an unironically promising start to the cycle we finally hit our first stinker. Repo Men is about a couple of former military jackasses who use their skillz to repossess mechanical organs that people fail to pay off. Jude Law ends up getting shocked by a piece of faulty equipment and receives a heart transplant. Aahhh, repossessor has become the repossessee. Quickly realizing he doesn’t have… the heart… for his job anymore and thus can’t pay for the organ he goes on the run with a cyborg lady (more or less). Forest Whitaker is hot on his trail and they get into a big ol’ battle. Realizing that he’ll never outrun Forest, Law and his cyborg friend break into the transplant factory, delete all their organs from the files, and live happily ever after on the beach… or did they? It’s a twist, baby! Whitaker actually totally owned Law earlier and put him in a coma. They then did a brain transplant which gave him a happy life to live out.
So yeah, the biggest issue with all of this is a classic doozy. It’s pretty rare to find an “it was all a dream” plot device in the wild. So well-worn and unsatisfying for audiences, it’s basically a guaranteed ticket to the BMT zone. About 20 minutes into the film Whitaker started talking about a neural transplant he saw at a trade show and I immediately texted Patrick to ask if it was possible we were going to be treated to such a twist. His coy reply was everything I needed to know. It never works and it didn’t here. Particularly given just how weird his “dream” is at the end.
That’s a nice parlay into my second biggest gripe with the film. While Law and Whitaker get to have a bunch of fun, the female characters in the movie are either drugged up weirdos or total wet blankets. This culminates with Law’s “dream” where after getting into an argument with his ex-wife, his son inadvertently shocks her into unconsciousness with a taser. Law can barely contain his glee. He then proceeds Oldboy style into the transplant HQ and has a super super super (super) weird pseudosexual transplant extraction scene with his primary love interest. It is straight out of a deviant art page from the early 2000s. I honestly am having trouble shaking that part of the film. It is startling… and to think that that whole sequence was part of his neural transplant induced life of perfection is upsetting. As for good things, I will say it’s stylish and has some superb acting by Forest Whitaker. That’s as far as I’m willing to go with the complements.
I’m feeling my soon to be trademarked segment of Hot Take Clam Bake, where I stake my claim on a hot take about the film. This time I’m making the claim that a large portion of this film is actually a dream. “But Jamie, we already knew that!” But did you? I’m claiming that even more of the film is a dream! What a twist! My claim is that the shock that resulted in Law’s heart transplant was actually a shock that resulted in Law’s neural transplant. My primary piece of evidence is that the film takes a real weird left turn at that very moment. Law awakens in the hospital with Whitaker and Liev Schreiber giddily telling him he had a heart transplant. Already weird. Then after he has lost the nerve for his job he stumbles upon a lady who he saw singing earlier in the film. Weird, she’s singing the same song now… in the middle of nowhere… and also has had a transplant… and also loves him. It’s all so coincidental and weird. Finally, no matter where he goes Whitaker seems to always find him. It’s like he’s the center of the universe… but he’s not. In the plot of the film he’s just another nobody who can’t pay for his organ. Three things all add up to this being a dream and the original dream being a Wicker Man level dream within a dream. Case closed.
I put that Hot Take Clam Bake at “Steaming.” Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Repo Men? More like Please No, Man! What everyone was a-clamoring for in the post-’08 financial meltdown world: the heartwarming story of people falling behind on payments and literally dying at the hands of repo men … Let’s go!
- This movie is bleak. The kind of film that was exclusively made (mainstream) in the late 2000s I feel like. That gritty real nonsense version of sci-fi with in-your-face gore, washed out backgrounds, and a narrator.
- SPOILEES! It was all a dream. I honestly didn’t really think movies actually Jacob’s Ladder-ed you. But this is a full blown Jacob’s Ladder. Like half the film doesn’t exist. It is so stupid.
- We watched the Unrated version (bully for us) so we apparently got a ton of extra stuff including John Leguizamo who was cut out of the theatrical release. That’s crazy.
- As pointed out in the Flophouse podcast on this film (from years and years ago, around when it came out) they posit a world in which basically 60% of people have artificial organs. It is begging for an explanation where it is shown that The Union is also releasing chemicals into the world which is causing people’s organs to fail or something.
- What else … the film is entirely narrated, that is a blast from the past. Forest Whitaker is great, like legitimately quite good, that’s a surprise. Everything else you can just give or take.
- Solid Product Placement (What?) for Volkswagon throughout. I’ll throw out the Future Movie (When?) for this as this is a very good example of an actual sci-fi future film, which is more rare than you would think. And this might be the runaway winner of Worst Twist (How?) for Jacob’s Laddering us. Definitely closest to Bad just for being a bit boring and weird for my tastes.
- Special Features Alert! The DVD (from the ‘brary as I like to call it) was chockablock with special features. We got deleted scenes (B-, a good number, but none were particularly interesting), we got fake commercials (F, not funny and pointless), we got a sfx short documentary (A, funny and interesting to see that some of the shots were entirely CGI), and, of course, we got an audio commentary with the director and both writers of the film. The commentary was fine, a solid B. The director was funny and seemed to be really proud of the film (they recorded it three weeks prior to opening weekend, so they didn’t know how it was going to be received), and overall they told a bunch of interesting production tidbits. It ain’t Ben Affleck dunking on Armageddon, but it was enough for a commentary-head like me to enjoy.
As usual, go to the Quiz to find out about the long lost sequel to Repo Men. Cheerios,