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Does the Hamlet set really want Saw-like gore?

1 out of 4 stars

Country
USA
Language
English

Repo Men

  • Directed by Miguel Sapochnik
  • Written by Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner
  • Starring Jude Law, Forest Whitaker and Liev Shreiber
  • Classification: 18A

The obvious question about Repo Men: Why bother?

In this science-fiction film, Remy and Jake (Jude Law and Forest Whittaker) are partners who hunt down people who haven't kept up payments on their artificial organs and, using a stun gun and scalpel, the partners reclaim them. Surely an artificial organ could have a remotely controlled off-switch which would avoid the bloody splatter and the reason for this movie. Instead, some movie executive couldn't resist the opportunity to bring together fans of Saw and Hostel torture porn with the crowd that, say, enjoyed Law's Hamlet on Broadway. True, Hamlet's violent as well, but this feels like a stretch.

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Because it doesn't actually make any sense, the movie relies on jaunty voiceover transitions by Remy (Law) as he introduces us to his childhood friend Jake (Whitaker) and boss Frank (Liev Shreiber), employees of a corporation called The Union. Not everybody's onside with the new world's collection methods. Remy's wife (Carice van Houten), who would prefer it if he went into sales, eventually leaves him in disgust. But Remy doesn't have a change of heart until, well, until he gets a change of heart. After an electrical accident, he has a new artificial ticker installed and suddenly loses his taste for carving up other people's torsos.

Alternately smirking and dully disgusting, the movie goes through a conventional journey to the broken-down outskirts of town where Remy meets the various black-market organ types. He hooks up with torch singer and multiple transplant host Beth, played by Alice Braga (familiar from such previous dystopias as I Am Legend and Blindness). Together, they plot to free the populace from organ debt, leading to a vast amount of stabbing and hammering and then a tender episode where, in an embrace, they stick their hands into each other's incisions to retrieve overdue parts. David Cronenberg may be owed royalties.

In fact, the script for Repo Men is adapted from Eric Garcia's novel The Repossession Mambo. The plot has much in common with the rock opera and film Repo: The Genetic Opera, by Darren Lynn Bousman, who has directed three of the Saw movies. It's not entirely clear who had the idea first, but was it really worth borrowing?

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About the Author
Film critic

Liam Lacey is a film critic for The Globe and Mail. More

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