Baddie – Missing the point.
Lesson – Some shady Hollywood business.
After my brief tryst with lists a few weeks back, I’ve felt the overwhelming desire to finally investigate this movie–the movie that Hollywood borrowed from the cult world only two years prior. Incidentally, last week I had the flu, hence no review. But rest assured that it means I really solidly did some research on this one. I had naively supposed that Repo Men is based on the 2008 Repo! The Genetic Opera but I have since learned that it’s not. Well, not officially. I was then torn, do I review Repo Men as it’s own movie? It’s super hard not to compare the two, so I tried not to.
Repo Men opens with Jude Law establishing himself as a care-for-nothing baddie in an apocalyptic wasteland in the not-so-distant future and the Schrödinger paradox. Jude Law looks like a Jehovah’s Witness (instead of a terrifying gas-masked villain) and he wields a civil taser and release form.
Jude Law has a wife, and a child, and a job with no cares given. Now, when I say post-apocalyptic, I really mean ‘completely normal except the raging war in other countries’–so, you know, America. The organization he works for is called ‘The Union’, and it exemplifies the exorbitant nature of the medical industry. That being said, there is less of an emphasis on the basal need to be…”better” in this movie.
They work a little too hard at making the Repo Men callous, and it eventually feels cruel and any sympathy I had for Jude Law, anti-hero or not, dissipates within twenty minutes. Clearly there are problems at home with the marriage, but I don’t really understand them other than the fact that wifey doesn’t like the violence of the Repo job. The plot finds a stupid reason to make her leave, and I’m just sad. Why was it necessary to make the wife such a stereotypical nag? This is echoes of Dexter, trying desperately to be a sympathetic psychopath but ultimately failing (despite Jude Law’s best efforts).
And then the tables turnnnnnnn BUH BUM BUMMMMMMM! Jude Law needs a heart. And he loses his wife. And the job that he first took to help cope with his PTSD becomes much more problematic for him. In fact, the movie just completely neuters him. He can no longer perform on the job. And he can’t (won’t?) pay for his heart. It’s inane. At some point, his repo partner takes him to the underbelly of the city to find an easy target to overcome his yips. Naturally, he’s still got the yips, and it doesn’t work. He gets knocked out and (mind you, we’re halfway through the movie now) and wakes basically a ruffian just like everyone else. Yay? He somehow locates the lounge singer from a random bar he went to before, and tries to take care of her in his last days.
I mean, basically after that it’s a lot of eye rolling. Like, a ton of eye rolling. Escalation, of course, and repo men comes after Jude Law, and he kills them. He’s also in love with the lounge singer now. They’re a couple. After this, Jude Law goes back to his office only to discover that the organs now to go the corporate office, leaving the last hour of the movie to an elaborate escape plan that, y’know, fails. Then there’s a weird segue in a back alley organ chop shop. Cue to the plot to take down the corporation, and some unnecessary action sequences. Then they have to Repo themselves, aka scan their own organs. This is more difficult for Beth (the lounge singer) because almost everything is fake for her. Repo does a fantastic job of making this a sex scene. Oh, I’m sorry, sex scene isn’t the appropriate tone for this scene? MY THOUGHTS PRECISELY. Blah blah blah after that they save the world or something.
So here’s the rub–on it’s own, Repo Men isn’t really a ‘bad’ movie, I guess. It’s not great. It doesn’t deserve any particular awards or nods. It’s not so bad that it’s good, because it has no heart (puns a plenty, I know). It exists on an extremely superficial plane of ‘eh’. The crux of the matter is, as an objective film goer, that one of these films had a lot of heart and b-movie execution, while the other had no heart and flashbang execution. Repo! The Genetic Opera is not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. It’s campy as hell, but it hits a lot of touchy subjects in a way that a lot of people can relate to–through humor. It reminds us how silly being superficial is, it makes us all think fondly on family and remember loss.
Naturally, as a huge fan of Repo! The Genetic Opera, I wanted to know where things went wrong, which is when we learn that Repo Men isn’t a remake. I made an infographic to help explain everything because the timeline is weird and kindaaaaa sketchy. I did legitimate research for this you guys. I have sources and everything. Here is the timeline.
- 1996: Smith’s friend falls into hard times, the inspiration for ‘Repo!’ is born.
- 1997: If my math is correct, Garcia writes short story “The Telltale Pancreas”
- 2002: The first iteration of Repo! is performed as The Necromancer’s Debt. That play is later revised to be a stage production of Repo! The Genetic Opera.
- 2006ish: A short film version of Repo! is submitted to producers.
- 2008: Repo! The Genetic Opera is released on film.
- 2009: Garcia publishes Repossession Mambo after his short story The Telltale Pancreas.
- 2010: Repo Men is released, based on Repossession Mambo.