Thanks to Barack Obama’s recent introduction of universal health
care in the US, the scenarios in this film are less of a possibility
than they were a year ago, although the repo men have certainly been
busy anyway, taking people’s homes.
Based on the novel The Repossession Mambo by Eric Garcia, who also co-wrote the screenplay, it has nothing to do with Alex Cox‘s 1984 cult classic, Repo Man. In this film of a dystopian future, which looks like a slightly glossier version of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Remy (Law) and Jake (Whitaker)
are repo men for The Union, a powerful corporation that sells
artificial organs to the needy and vulnerable. Although the organs come
with a high price tag, it is high-interest loans that make The Union
their money, like buying an extended warranty from an electrical store.
However, if the recipient of the new organ can’t keep up the payments
they get a visit from the repo men. Having the bailiffs come into your
house and take your TV away is mildly inconvenient and a little
embarrassing; having the repo men come into your house, shoot you
with a tazer then remove the organ in question while you lie on the
floor unconscious doesn’t leave you with much negotiating power.
Remy enjoys his unorthodox job, and the rough and tumble with his long time friend Jake, however Remy’s wife (Clarice Van Houten)
would rather see him in a safer sales job, something Remy is clearly
not cut out for, so he takes one final job. Predictably, like many of
the situations in the film, something goes wrong and Remy ends up in a
coma needing a new heart, which his boss (Schreiber) convinces him to take. Unfortunately, Remy has a change of heart with his change of heart and losing is killer instinct means losing his income and his ability to pay, so ends up being hunted down by, you guessed it, his best friend.
The film is clearly trying to be topical in a sci-fi setting,
addressing corporate greed and inhumanity and the massive foreclosure
situation in the US, not to mention the downside of private healthcare,
but it is not nearly as smart as it thinks it is or wants to be. The
plot points are all predictable and signposted, and the characters
clichéd, although the ending does have a twist that you probably won’t
see coming, but it does feel like it was added as a “let’s put in a
twist at the end, it worked for Shyamalan”. Production design and action
sequences are clearly influenced by Blade Runner and The Matrix, which are great choices to be inspired by, whether intentional or not. The action sequences are visceral and not for the squeamish, hence the 18 certificate.
Overall, if you like blokey, dystopian action movies then this
will entertain, even if it doesn’t stimulate intellectual debate