Repo Men Review: The Heart’s Not In It
Thank goodness for the NHS. If it weren’t for nationalised healthcare, we’d all be buying our organs on the black market by the end of the week. Perhaps that’s a little extreme but in the future world of Repo Men, that’s essentially what’s happening.
Remy (Law) works as a repo man for The Union. But it’s not just your couch and your telly he’s here to take back if you default on your payments, it’s your organs. The Union aggressively sells ArtifOrgs – mechanical replacements for your innards and if you fall behind on your payments, they’re authorised to take them back. With a shot from Law’s stun gun, you’ll be lying unconscious while he carves out your liver.
Remy is coldly detached from his work – a job’s a job right? His long-term partner and best friend is Jake (Forrest Whittaker) who seems to take more pleasure in the job than seems necessary.
But when a job goes wrong, Remy wakes up with a heart implant which suddenly gives him the ability to empathise with his victims. Soon the money dries up and he goes on the run. He teams up with a random woman he meets in the slums who has more unpaid merchandise in her body than a kleptomaniac in Maplins. And guess who gets assigned the task of repo’ing Remy’s ArtifOrgs?
From here on out, it’s all about Law encountering the kind of problems that can only be solved by shooting people in the face and stabbing anyone that gets in his way (not the post office queue as you might have imagined) and it’s here that plot holes start to appear faster than Remy can put them in his enemies.
If the Union is so concerned about its reputation (presumably slicing up their customers isn’t very good for their image), why do their agents carve people up in broad daylight? Why does it take an implant of his own to feel any empathy for those he’s been slashing up all these years? Where does that woman Remy teams up with even come from anyway?
It’s a frustratingly uneven film. Releasing a movie at the time of the American medical crisis is great idea – the way that insurance companies work over there isn’t actually very far off from what the Union are doing – putting profits before people.
However when Repo Men decides it wants to be a Phillip K Dick-esque tale of bucking the system but with none of the thought, it rapidly descends into farce. Butchering a dozen people in a corridor (a clear homage to the wonderful Old Boy) doesn’t sit well with a film that then tries to peddle a message about humanity.
But despite being lumpier than week-old custard, if you can let yourself be carried away by its silliness and give it the benefit of the doubt (something which is bizarrely easy to do), then it’s a fun, enjoyable sci-fi romp and at least worth watching for Forrest Whittaker trying to stave Jude Law’s head in with a crane hook.