Repo Men Review

The Film

We ascribe all sorts of abstract qualities to our hearts. Love, devotion, friendship - all rest rather nebulously in the chambers of our pumper. In this sense, our vital organ is a rather handy metaphor for the essential, for the things that make us most human and most alive. To be heartless therefore is to to be a shell, to be robotic and programmed - in short to have left behind the best qualities of the human race.

In Repo Men, a supposedly comic dystopian fantasy, Jude Law loses his heart and rediscovers his humanity as a result. As an idea that is nicely ironic with a great deal of potential for drama or humour, however as a mass product piece of entertainment it is simply a massive contradiction. This is because the redemption that Law attains is clumsily and mechanically arrived at, with very little real humanity evident. In short, this story of a man losing his real heart to gain a figurative one is fundamentally heartless.
Now I don't blame the source material for that fact as the ideas here could have been explored in a very rich way by talented artists with a healthy connection to their own tickers. Unfortunately the individuals putting on this tale are performers without charisma or real depth and a director keen to crib others notions for his own as he fumbles about in the emotional dark. For a film about reconnecting, Repo Men fails because it can't reach the viewer in anything other than a shallow way.

The actual story deals with an allegorical future where recession and a disastorous war have led to massive poverty, unemployment and the rise of private firms selling artificial organs to a public unable to pay. Non-payment results in Jude Law and his besty mate Forest Whittaker coming to harvest you and reclaim the company's property. Top Repo Man Jude hits the skids when his own heart is replaced after a botched job and his horrible wife kicks him out.
Jude Law is pretty. He has a nice chest which you will get to see plenty of times. He does not though have range in his acting, the ability to make a bastard seem interesting or the kind of voice that lends itself well to narration. Unfortunately these last three points are key to the lead role here.

Worse though is the direction and visual imagination of the film. There's a little bit of Blade Runner with some neon screens on skyscrapers, an extended rip-off of Oldboy's escape sequence(which is the best thing here) and finally a twist purloined from the Shawshank Redemption via any number of virtual reality stories. All the budget is up on screen, but nothing indicative of the soul that the story says is the purpose of existence.
Repo Men is also quite nasty, not funny and rather too long. There is misogyny in the representation of Law's missus, there is tokenism in the casting and the only acting worth a damn is that of Liev Schreiber as the splendidly oily boss. This originally could have been a project designed to make a knowing audience laugh and empathise with Law's supposed redemption but along the way it became a mess, a groping compromise as corporate as the world it is meant to despise.

Repo Men is quite awful.

Technical Specs

Two versions of the film are included on this dual layer region free disc, they are the theatrical and unrated versions. The unrated version was the one I watched and includes extra scenes not included in the theatrical release. The feature is transferred at 2.35:1 and whilst not looking like a particularly natural image there is plenty of detail, mild grain and strong contrast. Edge enhancement is not an issue and colours seem appropriately saturated. It's not eye popping but its pretty good.
A couple of foreign language standard definition audio mixes are offered along with an English master audio track. Now this is a loud thumping and overly emphatic film so there's plenty of the score to test out the whole soundstage and the subwoofer in particular. Subtler effects for ambience are not that noticeable from the rears although occasional atmosphere can be heard. The same is the case for dialogue so I would describe the mix as giving coverage if not a fully enveloping experience.

Special features

The menu design and gimmickery on this disc annoyed me greatly. When you pause the film, it is virtually impossible to resume without going back to the menu and the trumpeted D-Box feature proved beyond me to explore. All in all it resembles some of the ugly menus that we used to get on HD-DVD releases.

Writers Garret Lerner and Eric Garcia join the director for a commentary which is much more fun for them than the listener. There are lots of very banal descriptions of what you are already seeing and the director does not tire of telling you how great some of his scenes are. This is a chore of a track to listen to and I'd advise you stay clear of it.

You have the chance to avoid those men's company again with the deleted scenes offered here. The scenes include mock adverts in the style of Robocop, more buddy scenes and some droning narration where Law shares his valuable thoughts with us all. More "Union" commercials are offered in another featurette which rely on rather immature smut and add to the impression that the director owes a lot of his inspiration to Paul Verhoeven.

The final featurette looks at the visual FX with Eric Garcia and the director again. Greenscreen, CGI and the like are shown along with the movie magic that we all like to fast forward through.

Summary

I hated the film and the extras just deepened my feeling to be honest. If you do like the main feature perhaps you'll find the awkward navigation and self congratulation a little less annoying that I did.

Film
2 out of 10
Video
7 out of 10
Audio
8 out of 10
Extras
3 out of 10
Overall

3

out of 10

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