“Repo Men” is set in a future where no disease need be fatal. Artificial organs can be fitted for nearly any malady. Sadly, this future also seems to lack universal healthcare. As the scene is set, Jude Law’s character tells us that when you miss your car payments, the bank takes possession. When you default on your mortgage, the bank takes possession. So what happens when you miss payments on your liver? The bank takes possession.
Need a new heart? No problem. That will be $610,843. Can’t afford it? There’s a payment plan to fit your needs. At 19 percent interest. Per year. Of course, there’s a grace period. You have 90 days before Jude Law shows up at your home, place of work or the parking garage to take possession.
You can imagine just how he does this. It isn’t pretty.
But Law, who plays Remy, is the best at what he does. His partner in organ recovery is Jake, played by Forest Whitaker. Liev Schreiber is their jerk of a boss Frank in a pitch-perfect performance. All is going well, the pay is great and the job is challenging, but Remy’s wife just can’t deal with the fact that her child’s father rips organs out of people and leaves them to die. For her, it is a dealbreaker. Strange, huh?
So Remy is considering switching to sales and leaving the repo biz. But on his last run, something goes horribly wrong and it turns out that he needs to be fitted with an artificial heart. To say the least, Remy finds it difficult to tear the organs out of people when he could be in their very situation. He loses focus and his family, and 90 days later finds himself on the other side of the law.
“Repo Men” might seem to be formulaic, and for much of the movie it is. Remy only finds compassion when he becomes the hunted. Well, duh. But the clever use of music (when was the last time you heard “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone in an action flick?) should warn you that this is not a by-the-numbers sci-fi film. As he runs for his life, Remy picks up a friend, Beth (played by rising star Alice Braga), of whom he quickly becomes fond. She has nearly every implant in the book and is way behind in her payments. They struggle together to try to find a way out, all the time hunted by the repo men Remy used to call brothers.
Just when you think this film will end the way you predicted at the beginning, they pull the rug out from under you in dramatic fashion. This clever, entertaining and violently funny film is worth the price of admission. Smarter than most other offerings in the genre, “Repo Men” is not just a pleasant surprise–it is a cautionary tale of what a future without health care, one dominated by the pursuit of profit, has in store for all of us.