What compels an actor to take on a particular project? The screenplay? The cast and crew already involved? A chance for something different? Money, nothing else? It's hard to say, and surely it's different for each person, but it's hard to fathom why Oscar nominee Jude Law and Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker would be drawn to the boring sci-fi action-thriller Repo Men. Maybe they saw the next Blade Runner somewhere in the screenplay, or maybe they just wanted a chance to reach inside of rib cages to rip out artificial body parts, but whatever they saw doesn't pay off for the people who really matter: movie audiences.
Repo Men is set in the near future where artificial organs can be bought on credit. Just like a car or a house, those organs can be repossessed when the buyer can't pay up, which usually means the poor soul being hunted down by a "repo man" and getting cut open on the spot. As can often happen with just-in-time-and-unwanted surgery, the buyer will usually die. Law and Whitaker play repo men and best friends who are morally ambivalent about their jobs - that is until Law has an accident and becomes a patient of their customer-friendly corporation. When he's unable to pay the bills, the hunter becomes the hunted.
Repo Men is like Blade Runner, Minority Report and a slew of other gritty sci-fi action films, only not very good. Scene-by-scene, director Miguel Sapochnik crafts some well done scenes - including a few gruesomely satisfying fight sequences where blood sprays freely to seductive music - but the sum is much less than the parts. Repo Men is slow, lacks suspense and suffers from an incredibly unsatisfying "twist" ending. In other words, it's a big waste of time.
Law is fine, but his character is neither interesting nor sympathetic. Sapochnik and writers Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner fail to get inside his head early on, making it very hard to care for him once things no longer go his way. Whitaker is a waste of space; when given the right role and subject material, he can destroy scenes, but is wildly inconsistent overall. It doesn't help his character isn't very interesting, either.
Repo Men looks good and features plenty of blood and guts, but the overall production is a waste of time and energy. It takes itself way too seriously; had it lightened up to be just a little campy, Repo Men could have been a lot of fun. Instead, it's a sterile, dull and uninspiring thriller.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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