October 21, 2016
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Jude Law can’t rescue ‘Repo Men’


‘Repo Men’ (*1/2 out of 4)
You’ve no doubt heard of “Blade Runner.” Miguel Sapochnik’s “Repo Men” is more like “Bladder Runner.”

In a not-so-distant, dystopian future, sick people can purchase synthetic organs for the bargain-basement price of $618,420. Out of your price range? Don’t worry. The Union, which peddles these life-preserving items, offers multiple payment plans to meet your needs. But if you miss a month or two (and truthfully, The Union hopes you will), armed and dangerous Repo Men are trained to surgically reclaim your “property,” whether you’re finished with it or not.

Sapochnik’s sci-fi thriller lifts a great premise from Eric Garcia’s novel, “The Repossession Mambo,” but can’t quite figure out what to do with it once it’s laid out.

Jude Law plays Remy, one of the Union’s best Repo men, and pairs him with an unpredictable Forest Whitaker as Jake, Remy’s childhood friend and partner in repossession. Naturally we need to get to a point where these two men are at odds, or “Repo” would have no dramatic tension. So we’re handed a flimsy reason why Remy would need an artificial organ – an accident on the job short-circuits his heart – but then we rush through the Repo’s inability to pay for the organ and dive right into the chase.

Sluggish pacing, however, gives us way too much time to ask questions that “Repo Men” can’t answer. Why wouldn’t the Union simply build a kill switch into its organs so the devices could be turned off if someone misses a payment? It would make a Repo’s job much easier. Why is Remy’s wife so disappointed in his line of work, giving gifted actress Carice van Houten one note to play through the entire film? When Remy can’t afford his artificial heart, why won’t the Union’s supervisor (Liev Schreiber) just take payment out of his regular checks? He seems like a reliable employee. They should have been able to cut some kind of a deal.

But cutting isn’t a concern for Sapochnik, who slices scenes open and stitches them back together into a dull, dreary Frankenstein monster that gets sillier as the story progresses. “Repo Men” is inefficient. It wants to pass off its illogical plot holes on its science-fiction roots, but good sci-fi can (and needs to) be explained. “Repo” hides its mistakes under intense gore, lame narration, and a twist ending that – while logical – tips an already ludicrous adventure off its axis.


About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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