Film Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Forest Whitaker and Jude Law Buddy-Up in Cautionary Sci-Fi
Repo Man (1984) was a gritty cult hit about a couple of enforcers in a nasty line of work, namely, repossessing automobiles from folks who’d fallen behind in their car payments. A generation later, we now have Repo Men upping the ante, for this relatively-grisly, sci-fi adventure resurrects the same theme but applies it to the field of healthcare.
Set in the not too distant future, the picture revolves around the gruesome exploits of Jake (Forest Whitaker) and Remy (Jude Law), employees of The Union, a mega medical services corporation. The two have been best friends since grade school, and even fought in the war together while serving in a tank unit overseas. Today, they still have each other’s back on a job which literally calls for them to cut body parts out of the torsos of delinquent clients, even if they have to remove a vital organ.
This state of affairs doesn’t sit well with Remy’s wife, Carol (Carice Van Houten), who’s been pressuring her husband to quit, especially because of the example he’s setting for their young son, Peter (Chandler Canterbury). But due to mounting financial responsibilities, Remy can’t resign until he has another way of making the same money. Besides, he finds it easy to rationalize chopping hearts out of the chests of deadbeat patients, between the encouragement of his boss, Frank (Live Schreiber), and the healthy enthusiasm of his pal, Jake, for each of their assignments.
The straw that breaks the wife’s back arrives the day he excuses himself from a holiday barbecue to remove a kidney from a client in a cab parked right in front of their house. Carol subsequently not only changes the lock on the door and puts his suitcase by the curb, but she denies him visitation rights to boot. Remy takes it surprisingly in stride, finding a younger girlfriend (Alice Braga) who offers a sympathetic shoulder to lean on.
However, the plot thickens when he needs a heart transplant himself, and then has trouble meeting the monthly finance charges. And it’s not hard to guess who is assigned to chase him down when the account is 90 days past due.
So unfolds Repo Men, one of those splatter flicks which seemingly celebrates dismemberment as a beautiful blood sport. It’s hard to recall a movie where people were murdered with such glee and utter abandon. You would also think that in such a high-tech, futuristic scenario, the medical community would by then have devised a more tasteful and antiseptic way of handling patients in default.
Forest Whitaker has proven he can play a villain in the past, just look at how brilliant he was in Panic Room and The Last King of Scotland. Unfortunately, he’s woefully ill-suited for this red meat, vivisection vehicle. Best thought of as a parnoid fantasy of what’s over the horizon if the macabre rumors about the Obamacare death panels are true.
Fair (1 star)
Rated R for profanity, graphic violence, grisly images, sexuality and nudity.
Running time: 111 Minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Film Review by Kam Williams