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Remy and Jake are best friends and The Union's most dangerous repossession men, reclaiming top-dollar organs when recipients fall behind on their payments. But after an on-the-job accident forces Remy to be outfitted with a top-of-the-line heart replacement, he finds himself in-debt and on-the-run. Now, the hunter becomes the hunted as Jake will stop at nothing to track him down to finish the job.
For more about Repo Men and the Repo Men Blu-ray release, see Repo Men Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on July 20, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Starring: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, Alice Braga, Carice van Houten, Chandler Canterbury
» See full cast & crew
Repo Men Blu-ray Review
Or: Apparently the Future Doesn't Offer Workers' Comp...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, July 20, 2010
If Repo Men leaves you with an overwhelming sense of déjà vu, don't worry, you're not alone. It not only recycles and repurposes countless conventions of smarter dystopian science fiction films, it bears striking similarities to Darren Lynn Bousman's pulpy cult-musical, Repo! The Genetic Opera. The two share identical premises, characters cut from the same cloth, parallel subplots, and many of the same ideas bubbling beneath their surfaces; similarities that haven't gone unnoticed by Bousman or Genetic Opera writers Terrance Zdunich and Darren Smith. But while accusations have been leveled -- Repo! is based on a decade-old stage play of the same name, and debuted in theaters in 2008 -- it certainly wouldn't be the first time two groups of filmmakers have dreamed of the future and awakened with similar visions of a world gone mad. Tonally though, the two couldn't be more different. For better or worse, Repo! is a gaudy, gory genre-gumbo infused with pure insanity. Repo Men, despite some jarring dark comedy, takes itself far more seriously, indulging in everything from cautionary sermonizing to undercooked cultural satire to unrelenting Bourne-inspired action. Not that it matters. Repo Men is dead on arrival.
In the not-so-distant, not-so-unfamiliar future -- or 2025, if you prefer -- an inexplicably successful corporation called the Union supplies artificial organs and prosthetic limbs to an eager populous consumed by diabetes, renal failure and heart disease. Of course, mankind's newfound longevity comes at a price. Those who fail to keep up with their payments become targets of the Union's repo men, vicious cut-throats tasked with repossessing their company's wares, be it a spine, limb, lung or still-beating heart. (Conveniently, law enforcement officers and government officials are nowhere to be found in this bloody free-for-all.) Enter Remy (a leering yet miraculously redemptive Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker, in unhinged maniac mode): longtime friends, professional partners, and two of the Union's finest. Raiding "nests" of defunct clients and recollecting vital organs by the dozens, they take sick pleasure in their jobs and, more to the point, the exorbitant bonuses they earn from their department's sales manager, Frank (Liev Schreiber, running circles around the film's script with a toothy, used-car-salesman grin). But when an on-the-job injury leaves Remy with a tin ticker, he's crippled with sympathy for those he once split open without a second thought. Fast forward one crisis-of-conscience. Remy's payments are overdue, leaving the former company-man with an impossible choice: lay down and die, or run and hide for the rest of his life.
I'm not one to get hung up on plot holes, but apparently, the future doesn't offer workers' comp. Sorry, top headhunter. We know an unforeseen on-site mishap put you in the hospital, and we know our faulty equipment is responsible for your injury, but your first bill is due in a month. I might be willing to look past just such an oversight if the story were absorbing in the slightest. Maybe even three or four if Remy and Jake were even moderately interesting or engaging. Or, more to the point, if there weren't ten other plot holes waiting in the wings. First-time feature-film director Miguel Sapochnik (The Dreamer) and writers Eric Garcia & Garrett Lerner break the cardinal rule of future dystopian storytelling: create a cohesive world. Their premise is strong -- the skeletal scaffolding they build around it equally so -- but their future is tattered and ill-formed. A bit of Blade Runner here, a scrap of eXistenZ there, a pinch of Brazil for flavor, a hint of Minority Report for good measure, and a slew of other ingredients from more relevant sci-fi fare, all tossed into the same aging crock-pot of ideas and ideals; all crammed together with little rhyme or reason. How is it these repo men are given run of the city? How is it they're able to kill and maim without fear of reprisal? How is it the Union is allowed to do whatever to whomever whenever they like? Who cleans up the bodies left in the repo men's wake? Who deals with the fallout of their actions? The consequences? There isn't a sense of internal logic, nor an A-to-B reality to anchor one's self to. No steadily developing characters to root for, no triumph to applaud. Nothing but a flashy, Fight Club-born opening act, a cloudy, misguided middle stretch, and an anticlimactic, psychosexual, Cronenberg-lite denouement. Suffice to say, the whole of the film collapses under the weight of its own mediocrity.
Still, as bleak, mindless action-hybrids go, Repo Men isn't without its charm. (It outclasses drivel like Mathieu Kassovitz's studio-savaged Babylon A.D.) Law and Whitaker enthusiastically embrace Sapochnik's careening tone, latching onto the director's bizarre blend of burly comedy, gratuitous gore, nonlinear sleight-of-hand, Oldboy-homage sequences, and smoldering melodrama with unrepentant glee. Their performances are far from original, not to mention two-dimensional, but anything more complex would probably only derail the film further. Schreiber steals the show, emerging as the lone source of consistency in an increasingly inconsistent dystopia. Carice van Houten (as Remy's cold, uncompromising wife) and I Am Legend's Alice Braga (as Remy's new flame, a sweet yet self-destructive singer) do their part as well, giving Law plenty of fertile ground in which to root his otherwise testosterone-fueled performance. Yes, their characters are two of the most unlikable shrews to grace recent sci-fi cinema -- Houten's Carol is an obnoxiously grating spouse and an antagonistic mother, Braga's Beth is an unredeemable drugs-n-proesthetics addict and passive-aggressive loose cannon -- but the blame falls squarely on Garcia and Lerner's shoulders. As is the case with every other aspect of the film, the necessary elements are in place. Sapochnik and his writers simply neglect to weave them together, at least in any way that sets the flick apart from its genre brethren. To be clear, Repo Men isn't entirely unwatchable, it just isn't nearly as spellbinding, intriguing, surprising or mind-blowing as it could be.
(Note: the Blu-ray edition of Repo Men includes both the film's 112-minute, R-rated theatrical cut and 120-minute, unrated director's cut.)
Repo Men Blu-ray, Video Quality
Universal pairs yet another recent theatrical release with a crisp-n-clean 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. Soft source-born shots pepper the proceedings, but rarely to the film's detriment. Edges are sturdy and sharply defined, fine textures are generally coarse and lifelike, and ringing, though apparent, is kept to a minimum. Likewise, fierce reds capably pierce Enrique Chediak's overcast dystopian palette, lending a visceral edge to the bloodless greens and cold, cynical blues that domniate Sapochnik's future cityscape and dilapidated ghettos. It helps that black levels remain rich and inky, skintones are attractive and convincing, shadow delineation is as secretive as it should be (mired only by a bit of fleeting noise), and contrast is nice and filmic throughout. Discerning videophiles will notice brief, intermittent smearing here and there (two closeups of Law are particularly waxy), as well as some minor banding in a handful of shots, but none of it should raise any serious alarms. The whole of the presentation is quite impressive, and artifacting, unintentional crush, and other digital anomalies are nowhere to be found. Repo Men may not be a captivating film, but its transfer provides a captivating visual experience.
Repo Men Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Repo Men is loaded with action -- hand-to-hand combat sequences, bloody hallway fights, shootouts, and large-scale raids -- and Universal's ferocious DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track keeps pace. From the outset, the rear speakers go for the jugular, grabbing hold of anything available and dragging it, often kicking and screaming, across the soundfield. Be it a crumbling building, a vast processing plant, or a narrow hallway filled with rival repo men, immersion is unyielding. But believable ambience and enveloping acoustics are merely the beginning. LFE output is robust and intense, pans are slipstream smooth, directionality is precise, and separation is excellent. Moreover, the film's eclectic soundtrack -- blessed with a fantastic selection of classics like Perez Prado and Rosemary Clooney's "Sway," Nina Simone's rendition of "Feeling Good," William Bell's "Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday," and The Mamas & The Papas' "Dream a Little Dream of Me" -- is pitch-perfect, and Marco Beltrami's original score earns the full support of every speaker. In fact, I only have one issue with the mix. Dialogue, crystal clear and smartly prioritized as it is 95% of the time, is occasionally a bit too low. It isn't a major distraction, nor is it a frequent problem, but quieter conversations forced me to tap my volume up; a decision I would soon regret whenever the film would suddenly return to its previously scheduled roar. Regardless, Repo Men sounds great, and leaves few sonic stones unturned.
Repo Men Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Repo Men offers a nice selection of special features, among them a U-Control Picture-in-Picture experience, a filmmakers' audio commentary, and a handful of additional materials. It isn't a remarkable supplemental package by any means, but it should satisfy anyone who enjoys the film.
Repo Men Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Repo Men is a shallow, scattershot sci-fi actioner that, ironically, lacks heart. Worse, it suffers from a near-debilitating identity crisis. Is it a dark comedy? Scathing satire? Unrelenting action flick? Dystopian allegory? Preachy postmodernist parable? Genre catchall? Or is it a carbon copy of another movie entirely? Frankly, I don't think Sapochnik, Garcia and Lerner are exactly sure. My take? It isn't terrible, but it isn't very good either. As it turns out though, Universal's Blu-ray release is a strong one. Its video transfer is both faithful and able-bodied, its DTS-HD Master Audio track hits the ground running and never lets up, and its supplemental package has enough to keep fans busy for a few hours. Newcomers should rent Repo Men long before considering a purchase, but anyone who's already a fan will be satisfied with Universal's efforts.
Repo Men: Other Editions
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Repo Men Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Repo Men Unrated Blu-ray Announced - May 18, 2010
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced Repo Men for release on Blu-ray on July 20. This futuristic action-thriller has no relationship with the previous Repo! The Genetic Opera, even though it shares the premise of a dystopian future where transplanted ...
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