Friday, 6 August 2010

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Repo Men

To be honest, regarding this film, it had completely passed under my radar whenever it came out. I only managed to find out about from my ever reliable film critic (as ever, you know who you are) and his trusty collection of Region 1 DVDs. Many times I have had the pleasure of watching some great movies thanks to his collection, and I hope he could say likewise, but I suppose I have seen some terrible movies as well, Prom Night being my case in point. It was such an unbelievably terrible film. Anyway, here I have Repo Men, a sci-fi action thriller revolving around Remy, played by Jude Law, and his partner Jake, played by Forest Whitaker, two repo men who reposess organs from those who have not been able to make their payments to The Union, a large consumer organisation, for their boss Frank, played by Liev Schrieber. After failing his last job, Remy finds that he himself has had a heart transplant, and following his wife Carol, played by Carice Van Houten, throwing his out of his house, he slows down at his work and finds himself on the wrong end of the repo men when he doesn't meet his payments. Remy ends up going on the run with Beth, played by Alice Braga, a singer who has missed multiple organ payments herself. The film has been met with a certain degree of controversy because its plot resembles that of a film released a couple of years ago called Repo! The Genetic Opera. Repo! was a very little seen movie, but really is one of the finest little seen movies of the past ten years and is destined for cult status. It is true according to that films writer Terrance Zdunich that the film was originally proposed to Universal, who produced this film. They were confirmed as liking the premise, but not the fact that it was to be a musical film. Director Darren Lynn Bousman has also spoken out against the similarities between Repo! and Repo Men. Really, I would recommend to anyone that they should seek out Repo! The Genetic Opera because it's a really fine film and has a great score/original soundtrack. However, to give Repo Men it's due, whatever similarities there may be and accusations of plagarism regarding Repo!, it's not a bad film. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker are good as the two leads Remy and Jake and establish a believeable relationship and history between the two, creating an emotional core whenever they both go seperate ways and Jake ends up having to hunt Remy. It speaks very highly of Whitaker, who is quite simply a wonderful actor, that he takes on projects such as Repo Men, for after doing The Last King Of Scotland and winning the Oscar he could be demanding for more "acting" performance roles for which he might be considered more award worthy. Whitaker comes across as very down to earth thanks to this, and really displays his range as Jake, for he is essentially playing second fiddle to Law here and comes across in many ways as a big child. Also, despite having a nothing role and by no means significant screen time, Schrieber manages to be so good at what he does as ever that he manages to make cardboard cutouts seem three-dimensional. Seeing Liev Schrieber in any role is a pleasure, no matter how well developled in the script it is, because he is just good in anything, and I'm not being biased but he is just that good. To be fair, whether the central premise was plagarised or not, it is a good premise for a film and does provide for some interesting scenes. The moral dilemma of Jude Law's character is written well, particularly whenever he is confronted with the harsh reality of the implications that his despicable job has those lives whom it effects. Indiviudal scenes in the film really shine and provide for some really interesting moments in which the film seems a lot better than it really is. Also, Enrique Chediak's cinematography is really good, capturing the action in the film very well, knowing not to overuse or employ "shaky-cam syndrome" as many action cinematographers do these days. Furthermore, it is worth pointing out that he clearly knows how to light a scene, for even whenever we reach the dregs and grungy dirt of certain scenes in the film we know what is going on. Finally, it is nice to see in a Hollywood movie every now and again fight scenes, which are really these days not seen much in film any more, and the choreography is for the most part really good. However, despite these strong examples of what the film could have been, Repo Men is a really flawed film. For starters, I think that it's only right that if you are going to get good actors, you at least write them a good part, even if screen time is minimal. Alice Braga's character is poorly written and very two-dimensional, and if anything her performance comes off completely this way. Also, Carice Van Houten, a very fine actress, is given a completely vacant and dull role. No effort is made to explore the character of Carol, who is more a presence to just fill plot holes than anything else. As such, these two female performances are completely uninteresting and vacuous. The script, for all intents and purposes, while having a number of good ideas and individual scenes, does not fit together as a whole whatsoever. A number of scenes in the film could well have appeared and seemed fitting in other films, but here they just don't fit in. The mood of the piece bounces all over the place. At times, we aren't sure if we are watching a "serious" sci-fi thriller or something satirical a la Robocop or perhaps even a buddy comedy. After having went through these potential genres to settle into, it ends up going off the richter scale and going for the balls-to-the wall action movie. By this point though, it seems the film-makers do not care and are indifferent, not realising the absolute ridiculousness of what is on display. They go completely over-the-top on the gore stakes, and whenever they try to emphasise how despicable this lifestyle is, having self-indulgent and very violent action sequences take away from the seriousness that the movie is trying to establish. Don't get me wrong, I'm not on some moral thing about violence in movies, for a number of my favourite movies are violent, Robocop for one, but it just veers into ludicrousness, and despite wanting to make a serious film, the film-makers clearly just don't care. Also, it must be said, for all the accusations of the film-makers and Universal plagarising Repo! The Genetic Opera, there is a fight scene which uncannily resembles the four minute one-shot fight scene in Oldboy to similarly for it to be coincidence. I did enjoy the film for a good part, but by the time third act got rolling, I just didn't care. At 111 minutes long, it is at the very least 30 mins too long, and finally, I am sick of these plot devices (this is NOT a spoiler, so no accusations please) that render entire sections of the plot or the entire plot superfluous or irrelevant. This is the third time I have seen this used this year as an excuse for lazy film-making and it must stop. Ultimately, for all the good casting and enjoyable sections of the film, highlighting by some really good cinematography, Repo Men is condemned by a horrible script and some really indifferent film-making.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 4.2/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Relatively cross

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