Repo Men is an uneven affair, resulting in a bit of a frustrating affair. The premise is admittedly strong and pretty focused, but it seems as though the director just tends to wander for periods of time, resulting in a movie that has some great moments, but is also hampered with plenty of dead weight. The film fizzled when it hit theatres earlier this year, but is there a chance it can find a second life on home video? Does it play better on the big screen? Well, let’s skip past the synopsis and find out.
In the futuristic action-thriller Repo Men, humans have extended and improved our lives through highly sophisticated and expensive mechanical organs created by a company called The Union. The dark side of these medical breakthroughs is that if you don’t pay your bill, The Union sends its highly skilled repo men to take back its property… with no concern for your comfort or survival. Jude Law plays Remy, one of the best organ repo men in the business. But when he suffers a cardiac failure on the job, he awakens to find himself fitted with the company’s top-of-the-line heart-replacement… as well as a hefty debt. When he can’t make the payments, The Union sends its toughest enforcer, Remy’s former partner Jake (Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker), to track him down. The film is based on the novel “The Repossession Mambo” by Eric Garcia.
The movie is timely, sure, and the premise is entirely plausible and even interesting. Repo Men has that working for it, and pretty much only that. What could have been a gritty, maybe satirical take on the current economy and issues, it instead ends up a mess. The uneven tone makes the film slip and slip, only briefly sparking to life for the odd action sequence before falling under the mess it has created for itself. And boy, those action scenes, and some of the interesting organ retrievals, are just dripping in the red stuff. Excessively at times. It’s quite apparent that any attempt to create a multi-layered film was quickly tossed, opting to instead focus on the action pieces that litter the feature.
Law does well with the film’s lead role, admittedly, bringing a likable face to what is a pretty predictable character arc and story. However, given that Law arguably has the most developed character in the entire movie, you would be correct in assuming that does not bode well for the rest of the characters. The remaining major characters, played a surprisingly well-rounded cast of respected actors, just limp on the screen. There just doesn’t seem to be enough meat for these characters, which is likely due to some heavy trimming here and there to emphasize the action over the story.
Personally, I was hoping the film would push its premise ahead once we got over the set-up in the first act, that there would be a more in-depth exploration of the whole idea behind what the “Repo Men” do, and how it applies to our current-day economy and lifestyle. And there is something there, the comparisons are clear and evident, but it seems to get lost once the film decides to pretty much give up and hop from action sequence to action sequence once Law goes on the run. And, boy, are those action sequences bloody. Make no mistake, there is plenty of blood here, folks.
Repo Men does show the odd spark of wit and satire, especially in the set-up, but that charm vanishes. Instead things just seem to amble around, foregoing what could have been a smart satirical take instead turns into a hollow action flick. Sure, some of the action sequences are entertaining to watch, and are sometimes funny in their has-to-be-intentional over-the-top bloody nature. In the simplest terms, it’s a film with an excellent premise that ultimately ends up flat and hollow. Repo Men is worth a simple Rental, nothing more, as the film seems to fall quite short of its intriguing plan.
Universal Home Entertainment has released a pretty standard DVD home video release for Repo Men. Also available in high-definition Blu-ray, this standard definition title is released in a regular Eco-Amaray case.
Looking inside, the audio and video quality is fairly strong. The video is probably one of the sharpest standard definition releases I’ve seen in quite some time. The blacks are solid and deep, details are clear and crisp. Compression is pretty non-existent, resulting in one excellent looking movie, particularly note-worthy for such a visually dark movie as this. The audio mix, in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, is fine but not as strong as the video. Dialogue is clear, but the more action-oriented scenes sometime sound muddled and directionless.
Moving on to bonus content, first up is an unrated cut of the feature, adding an additional eight minutes to the film. The unrated content doesn’t really add much to the film, in all honesty, but it does toss in more blood in an already bloody, bloody flick. Up next is a full-length commentary track, featuring director Miguel Sapochnik along with writers Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner, which actually delves into some interesting behind-the-scenes details in how the film came together and some of the difficulties they experienced in editing and with the ratings board. Also included are a collection of deleted scenes, with optional commentary, full-length commercials for the organ corporation, and a brief featurette on the film’s visual effects. The bonus features list may be short, but they are worth a watch.
Wrapping up, Repo Men is a great looking but ultimately muddy little flick. A great cast given nothing to do, and a story that seems as butchered as the victims of these Repo Men, an excellent premise is ultimately wasted. Sci-fi goers may enjoy it, but it’s really worth a Rental at most. The bonus features do provide some interesting context for the film and its production, but it’s not enough to warrant more than a single run-through once you’re done with the movie itself. Ultimately disappointing, Repo Men sacrifices ideas and biting commentary for buckets of blood and action.
Repo Men is now available to own on DVD and Blu-ray.