Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 21 March 2010
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
It was bound to happen. The current climate of foreclosure lends itself to the premise of a film that documents the ultimate repossession: human organs that have been already been transplanted. The logic? You don’t own it until it’s paid for. Alright, it happened once already in a musical format starring…Paris Hilton (Repo – The Genetic Opera). This film is not a remake, though, but there is some singing early on – followed by lots of blood.
In a hyper-commercial world in the not-too-distant future, repo men are dispatched to reclaim organs that are overdue (lapsed payments); almost all are – the average price tag is $650,000. The dispatched men make their own dispatches, expertly removing the organ in question, preserving and returning it to The Union, the company which oversees the put-ins and the take-outs. Frank (Liev Schreiber) is the big boss that closes deals with prospective clients using soothing words to urge the desperate to sign on the dotted line.
The repo men are a merry band of fellows, each with the company logo tattooed on their necks. To them, it’s just a job, and a lucrative one at that. They are simply organic tow truck drivers in a world of overdue cars, except these vehicles are human beings. Oh well, it’s a living, made at the expense of the living. Such is life.
One such repo, Remy (Jude Law) is a husband and father. His wife Carol (Carice van Houten) urges him to transfer into the sales department of The Union, shuddering at the thought of what he does when he goes to work. His partner and childhood friend Jake (Forest Whitaker) is as enthusiastic about his job as he is good at it. It’s nothing personal after all. He can remove a kidney in a matter of minutes and hey, the guy HAS two – he can live on one, right? Heart, lung, and liver recipients are not so lucky.
Conflict arises when Remy encounters a “reclaim” that needs defibrillation and accidentally knocks himself out in the process, awakening to the fact that HE has a brand new artificial heart inside his chest. The change of heart is both literal and figurative. Remy finds that he can no longer complete his assignments, allowing “reclaims” to escape, and hesitating when crucial cut-and-removals are to be made. His marriage suffers, and Carol throws him out believing he relishes his ghoulish work.
Income dwindling, the bill for Remy’s heart becomes overdue and he makes himself scarce, teaming up with a lounge singer, also in hiding, who’s had multiple transplants (eyes, ears, larynx, knee, kidney, pancreas). Her payments have all lapsed, and she’s trying to avoid ending up looking like a piece of Swiss cheese. The two dodge various repo men as well as Jake and Frank in a flurry of bloody violence that doesn’t stop until the final twist halts the flight. You’ll either think it clever or be totally put off.
The film is about 30 minutes too long, but starts out intriguingly enough so that you buy the premise well past the midpoint. After that time you may tire of the frenetic pace or the endless series of events that the transplanted couple must endure – including a near evisceration, filmed as if it were a sexual encounter.
Jude Law makes Remy as believable as he can be, while Forest Whitaker puts his own menacing eye to good use; Jake’s someone you don’t know whether to despise or joke around with as the film progresses. Liev Schreiber is one cool cat as the literal flesh peddler who could use a figurative heart of his own. Alice Braga appears out of nowhere to symbolize transplants everywhere and bleed a lot.
Director Miguel Sapochnik (The Dreamer) creates a digital future that you’ve seen before – a mile high and all advertising signs. Adapted from the book The Repossession Mambo by Eric Garcia, (who also wrote the screenplay, along with television writer Garrett Lerner (Smallville), the action is almost non-stop to the point where it seems odd if any one of the characters should pause for a conversation.
Disappointing in its final hour, Repo Men may have done better to heed its own advice and take back some of its later developments. If a squad of them burst in to reclaim this film, more than a few of the viewers would let them.