Wednesday, August 18, 2010

REPO MEN - More Brawn Than Brain

REPO MEN (sci-fi thriller)
Cast: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Alice Braga, Joe Pingue, Liev Schreiber, Carice van Houten and Liza Lapira
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Screenplay: Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner, based on Garcia's novel The Repossession Mambo
Time: 111 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: Those who have seen the trailer to Repo Men would know what there is to know about the movie's plot - except for the twist at the ending. And those who have seen the movie would probably be sorely disappointed with the twist at the ending. Yup, Repo Men is one film that is technically sound but narratively flawed. Halfway through, you will wish that you have left your brain at the door.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Remy and Jake (Jude Law and Forest Whitaker, above) are a couple of reposessors working for a big corporation (called The Union) that provides mechanical organ transplants to people on an instalment plan. Those who renege on payments get their organs brutally ripped off their bodies by the repo men.

One day, while on his last repo job, Remy has an accident - and wakes up in hospital to find that he has been supplied with an ArtifOrg heart, on loan from the Union! With this 'change of heart', Remy finds himself losing his appetite for violence. And when he can't make the hefty payments for his new heart, his former colleagues come after him...

HITS & MISSES: The first half-hour can be a seat-gripper, full of fast-paced, visually-engaging and gory action as we follow Law and Whitaker on their rounds. The duo exude a nice screen chemistry that we have come to expect of them. The same goes for Liev Schreiber who gives his 'salesman' Frank a delectable sort of villainy. Alice Braga (right) provides the requisite feminine allure as the fugitive Beth.

The narrative excitement starts to taper off after Remy gets on the other side of the repayment plan - and the plot holes become apparent. Like, why does the company go about fitting organs into people who apparently can't pay? Why does the Government allow such repo men to operate? And so on.

It is evident that there is not enough material to stretch the movie to its present length - and director Miguel Sapochnik fills the footage with borrowed stuff from famous sci-fi hits like The Blade Runner and AI. The Repo Men opened in the US last March 19 at a time when President Obama pushed his healthcare reforms through Congress. However, the timing failed to boost the box-office clout of Repo Men. The movie, made with a production budget of US$32 million (about RM100 mil) grossed only US$6.1 million at its opening weekend. Overall, it grossed US$17.8 million so far.

THE LOWDOWN: More of a miss than a hit.


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