Dir: Miguel Sapochnik. US. 2009. 111 mins
Featuring a pumped-up Jude Law as a body parts bounty hunter, Repo Men delivers pulpy sci-fi action with dark comic glee but not much verve or storytelling skill. Genre-loving fanboys are likely to make up the bulk of the audience, though Law’s recent success with Guy Ritchie’sSherlock Holmescould broaden the initial appeal.
International markets could offer the most potential, given the internationally-flavoured supporting cast and Sherlock Holmes’ strength outside the US.
The R-rated Universal release, held over from last summer, opens wide in North America this week and around the rest of the world through the spring and summer. International markets could offer the most potential, given the internationally-flavoured supporting cast and Sherlock Holmes’ strength outside the US.
The story, based on a novel by Eric Garcia (whose books include Anonymous Rex and the previously filmed Matchstick Men), is set 20 years in the future, when a powerful corporation sells pricey artificial human organs. Working with a stun gun, a scalpel and a no-nonsense attitude, Law’s Remy visits buyers who are overdue with their payments and surgically ‘repossesses’ the body parts concerned.
After an accident leaves him with an artificial heart - and a big bill - of his own, Remy starts to have second thoughts about the job and goes on the run with sexy organ-buyer Beth (Brazilian Alice Braga, from City of God). In pursuit is Remy’s former friend and fellow repo man Jake (Forest Whitaker). In smaller roles are an underused Liev Schreiber (Wolverine) and Dutch star Carice Van Houten (Black Book).
Making his feature debut, music video director Miguel Sapochnik stages a handful of amusingly gruesome action and comedy sequences (and an over-the-top climcatic scene that has Remy and Beth mixing sex with surgery). But he allows the film to make awkward shifts in tone and he doesn’t do enough to make the story engaging or the futuristic setting interesting.
Productions companies: Universal Pictures, Relativity Media, Stuber Pictures
Worldwide distribution: Universal Pictures
Producer: Scott Stuber
Executive producers: Miguel Sapochnik, Jonathan Mone, Mike Drake, Valerie Dean, Andrew Z Davis
Screenplay: Eric Garcia & Garret Lerner, based on the novel The Repossession Mambo by Eric Garcia
Director of photography: Enrique Chediak
Production designer: David Sandefur
Editor: Richard Francis-Bruce
Music: Marco Beltrami
Main cast: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, Alice Braga, Carice Van Houten