Repo Men (2010)

Rated: R for for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language and some sexuality/nudity.
Length: 111 minutes
Grade: C-HBD=D+
Budget: $32 million
Box Office: $35 million (14 U.S., 4 Intl., 7 DVD)

Written by: Eric Garcia (Matchstick Men) and Garrett Lerner (TV like Boston Public, John Doe and Roswell)
Directed by: Miguel Sapochnik (First movie)
Starring: Jude Law and Alice Braga
With: Forest Whitaker, Live Schreiber, and John Leguizamo.

In a world where people who can’t afford the payments on their artificial organs have them repossessed by above-the-law mercenaries, one of the best suddenly has a change of heart (sorry) when he becomes a client of the company.

Entertainment Value: C-
This is a great concept mostly ruined by bad writing and a decision to make it as gory and vulgar as possible. I wanted to enjoy this more than I did, and I watched it despite the universally bad reviews. In the end, it’s such a great concept that just simply could have been done much better. The twist ending only winds up being annoying, even though it ties together with the beginning fairly well.

Superficial Content: H
Drugs/Alcohol D, Sex/Nudity D, Violence H, Language F
There is occasional use of some unknown drug that seems like cocaine. There are several scenes of nudity and sexuality. Language would be an F all on its own and is quite heavy. The really awful part of this movie, however, is all the gore involved in killing people by removing their artificial organs. When I say this is an H on an A-F scale, I’m not kidding. R just doesn’t cover it. Absolutely no kids, and probably not many adults either.

Significant Content: B
Corporations that charge hefty fees for doing humanitarian deeds are evil. We must never let our society get to the place where people can be slaughtered just because they are delinquent on their body part payments. The world seems to run on rules and need people to enforce them, but the people who use that as an excuse to do wicked things are the most awful people of all. A job is a form of self-definition and identity. If you want to change who you are, change what you do.

Artistic/Thought Value: D
The science-fiction tradition is well-populated by films that depict unsettling future realities which then force us to consider the path we’re currently on. The reason this works is because they provoke our thinking. The problem in this case is that the idea is overwhelmed by the vulgarity of the presentation and the failure to make a choice between this being an action movie, a slasher movie, or a science-fiction movie. Thought value isn’t too bad, but it’s terrible art. This is a case where having slightly better writers or a more experienced director might have made all the difference.

Discussion Questions:
~How much of our identity and place within society is a function of our job? Is it a modern luxury to think this way about our labor?
~Is this movie trying to say that all forms of repossession are inherently immoral? What is it about repossessing mechanical organs that is so different from taking cars and houses?
~The company is running a kind of scam that actually depends on taking back people’s organs and reselling them to other people to make money. Are there any similar practices in our current world?
~It is occasionally debated whether people should be allowed to sell their organs and/or pay others for them. Based on this movie, what do you think?
~If you could exist in a world where you were happy all the time but it wasn’t “real,” would that be an option you would choose?
~Schroedinger’s Cat is a thought experiment in which the cat is inside a box with a random machine that may or may not yet have killed it. According to quantum theory, the cat is both alive and dead until it is observed as either. Why does the movie open with this idea? What question does it want us to ask about our current reality? Is this movie primarily about body parts and science fiction futures or is it primarily about the nature of modern entertainment?

Overall Grade: D+
If you haven’t seen it, don’t. Sadly, this is a brilliant idea with some interesting things to say botched terribly in the actual execution.

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