Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Repo Men

Forest Whitaker, Jude Law, Liev Schriber, come clean about that hooker you murdered. Maybe Alice Braga should also come clean about it, though I suspect she's just taking any Hollywood role she can find to establish herself as an actress. Regardless, we all know you killed that hooker guys. Why? Well, you're all talented actors who have a bit of a box office draw. You're all actors who should, by all logic, have free reign to choose your projects and pick anything which you want. You are all actors who, by no means, should be starring in Repo Men.

In a world which looks like Blade Runner with extra gushy gore, Jude Law and Forest Whitaker are Repo Men named Remy and Jake. What do they repo? Organs! Sweet, gushy, artificial organs, after people default on their sub-prime loans, issued by Liev Schriber's Frank, who is so slimy he apparently is also on a Nickelodeon game show. Remy loves being a repo man, even though his wife does not approve, and he and Jake go on many repo adventures as they murder hundreds of people to get their organs back, serving a business model which can't possibly sustain itself. Eventually, Remy has a change of heart - both metaphorical and literal - and realizes that he's pretty goddamn evil actually. Also, there's Alice Braga, who plays a singer who had every body part replaced. Her character is of dubious importance, though since I like her I'll say she was great in City of God and leave it there.

Repo Men packs one hour of story into two hours, stretching the premise so thin that it could be used as a salad strainer. Everyone in the film has a shiny new artificial organ, though everyone's also past due on their payments. How does this business model work exactly? We all know that the sub prime mortgage collapse did in a lot of large companies - the film seems to think it's clever to reference such an event years after the fact, because it's cutting edge - and if everyone's defaulting on their loans - and has to get an expensive repo job on their body parts - how does the company profit exactly?

If we were going to talk about plotting, there are so many rabbit holes to go down. The first half of the film is accompanied by Jude Law's ridiculous, half-jokey narration, which doesn't really add much in the way of context or anything, and presents a misinterpretation of Schrodinger's Cat so egregious that millions of quantum physicists were literally angry with rage. In the second half, we're presented with massive plot holes, ridiculously sloppy writing and some extremely heavy handed moments. Of course, there's a reason for this, that reason being a plot twist so awful that M. Night Shyamalan would find it beneath him.

I felt for the actors. These are talented people who just happened to kill that hooker - there really is no other logical explanation - and they are given a script with dialog that causes physical pain and doesn't make any sense. You want to rescue them, take them away from this set and to a production of a good movie, that isn't awful in every way.

Action movies can often get away with an awful script if the action is good. The action is not good, just gory. There's lots of squishy gooey surgery scenes, and people are stabbed with alarming frequency. There's also a fight scene that tries to rip off Old Boy but then decides it takes too much effort to film such an intricate sequence and just becomes quick cut and filled with unnecessary stabbing. A good stabbing can sometimes be a valuable piece of punctuation in a good picture, but when everyone gets stabbed what's the point?

It's amazing that something so awful can get past script approval, budget approval, shooting, editing, test screenings on the way to wide release. Producers want to make money, that's their job, so surely someone down the line thought "Wait, what are we making? Why are we doing this? Why did I approve this script? This is terrible! The reviews will be universally awful! Audiences will stay away in droves! What was I thinking?" Perhaps the producer also killed a hooker?

The soundtrack's good though.

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