Cyberpunk Review » Repo Men

March 22, 2010

Repo Men

Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 2010

Directed by: Miguel Sapochnik

Written by: Garrett Lerner & Eric Garcia (based on his novel The Repossession Mambo)

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Key Cast Members:

  • Remy: Jude Law
  • Jake: Forrest Whitaker
  • Beth: Alice Braga
  • Frank: Leiv Schreiber
  • Rating: 5 out of 10

  • New Eye: $345K
  • New Heart: $975K
  • New Liver: $756K
  • New Kidney: $524K
  • Not Making Payments for 90 Days: YOUR ASS!
  • Remy at work

    “Relax, it’s totally painless! I won’t feel a thing! Besides, once you’re dead you won’t even notice.”

    Overview: The timing of this movie’s release is eerie. Originally scheduled for April 2, it was instead released March 19, the same weekend that the US Congress scheduled a vote on Health Care Reform. Coincidence? Maybe, but this film could be considered a vision to what could happen if HCR fails (or succeeds, depending on how you want to look at it). No, cities won’t turn into a Blade Runner landscapes, but a corporation does finds a way to make its “customers” live on borrowed time… literally and figuratively… while they profit.


    The Story: Megacorporation “The Union” has apparently cornered the market on artificial organs, or “artiforgs.” This, plus a (continuing) global economic meltdown, has made such implants a very expensive purchase, even to save a life. To make them affordable to those who can’t buy outright, The Union has financing plans available similar to today’s car and/or home loans. But there is a downside to such financing; Fail to make a payment for 90 days, and The Union will send repossession men to retrieve the organ. The organs have an RFID-style tracking system installed, so repo men can track down the delinquent, cut them open, and retrieve the organ. Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker), former schoolmates and soldiers, are The Union’s best repo men.

    Remy has a wife and a son, and lately, she has been pressuring Remy to switch from repossession to sales which doesn’t pay as much but would allow him to spend more time with his family. During one repossession mission, a defibrillator malfunctions and nearly kills Remy. He awakens in a hospital with a Union financed Jarvik artiforg heart… and the bill for it.

    Remy (Jude Law)

    The Corporate Brand: Not just for salarymen.


    Tin Man. A new heart wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world, but when Remy tries a repossession he couldn’t go thorough with it. Physically, his normally steady hands start shaking, and mentally his tell-tale heart can be heard. It’s as though losing his heart actually gives him a heart; Losing part of his humanity made him more human. His new Jarvik heart must have had an empathy attachment, since he is now unable to do repossessions… or even sales as his graphic descriptions of repossessions scares customers.

    Unable to make money, Remy soon finds himself being hunted by repo men, including his friend Jake.


    The cat in the… box? At a couple of moments in the movie, Remy refers to an experiment where a scientist places a cat inside a box with a machine that emits poison gas at some point. We are simultaneously alive and dead, was the scientist’s conclusion, but Remy didn’t understand what that meant until he was being hunted himself, and found himself identifying with the cat:

    We can either lick our paws and wait for the inevitable, or we can fight and claw our way out of the box.

    Remy chooses to fight his way out, and hopes to liberate other repo targets from the system.

    Repo Man chase

    “Welcome to your world, repo man.”

    OK, should be go see it? There’s not much new to see. In fact, some of the city scenes could be confused for Blade Runner, only without the spinners flying about. There is the contrast of the sterile environs of The Union’s offices (especially the “clean room” that doesn’t stay clean) and the run-down part of town known as the “black hole.” There’s also Beth, the woman who is almost nothing but artiforgs, including enhanced eyes and ears. And of course, The Union and its payment-and-repossession program that can be called predatory. Pretty much standard issue cyberpunk stuff.

    UPDATE: After having seen Repo! The Genetic Opera, I can say there is not much similar between these two movies. With Repo Men’s cyberpunk tomes vs. Repo!’s goth atmosphere, we can keep this at 5 stars.


    Conclusion: Can’t really say Repo Men is a great movie, or even a good one. It does it’s job well enough, but lacking originality, the current politics with health care reform… and some obligatory operational blood… may be enough to turn many off. Adequate enough to waste a couple of hours on, but only IF you’re not into operas.

    Frank (Leiv Schreiber)

    “You owe it to your family. You owe it to yourself.”

    This post has been filed under Cyberpunk movies from 2010 - 2020, Dystopic Future Movies, 5 Star Rated Movies, Cyberpunk Theme by Mr. Roboto.


    March 22, 2010

    Klaw said:

    Good review Mr. Roboto… I had a feeling this was walking the Gamer/Surrogates line of being blinged out with Cyber concepts and devolving into the same old same old. I didn’t think Repo The Genetic Opera was all that great, especially some dubious singing, but it certainly was entertaining and visually impressive.. I suspect you’ll like it more than this and downgrade this one.

    March 23, 2010

    El Phantasmo said:

    I have never seen a good movie with Liev Schrieber in it. And that includes Defiance. I also already saw Daybreakers and this reeks of the same type of boring waste ( Sam Neil performance aside ).

    Although I haven’t watched Genetic Opera either and I’d rather see this if given the choice.

    evilwavey said:

    I have watched Repo - The Genetic Opera. Looks like the same story, but think musical buffy meets Hellraiser at the local goth club full of pvc clad angst ridden teens. Considering it is more of movie of passion than budget it is entertaining and visually stunning, just can’t deal with all the singing myself.

    Repo Men | White Dragon said (pingback):

    […] posted here: Repo Men VN:F [1.8.6_1065]please wait…Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)VN:F [1.8.6_1065]Rating: 0 (from 0 […]

    March 25, 2010

    Hex said:

    How interesting that they use the word artiforg… to my knowledge, that’s a PKD coining.

    March 26, 2010

    Harmsden said:

    ‘Repo! The Genetic Opera’s lyrics are frequently awful, and there’s major pacing problems, but I found myself swept away by it’s enthusiasm and its oddness. A lot of passion went into it and it’s such a strange thing for a major studio to make (so strange they got cold feet and tried to kill it), that I couldn’t help falling in love. It’s corny and cringy as he’ll but it’s a lot of fun and it gets into your head after awhile.

    April 2, 2010

    Majus said:

    Kinda funny they use the name, “Jarvik,” for the name of the artificial hearts. Robert Varvik is a real guy.

    You might have also seen him recently, in the past few years, on television, as he portrayed himself in commercials for the medication, Lipitor.

    Majus said:

    Also, the scene with the cat and the poison is an allusion to Schrödinger’s cat.

    April 5, 2010

    Cyberpunk Review » Repo! The Genetic Opera said (pingback):

    […] Rating: 7 out of 10 Overview: I was hoping to see this movie before seeing Repo Men so I could at least see how close to each other they were. While there are some minor similarities […]

    April 10, 2010

    Steel said:

    Sounds like there are some similarities with Logan’s Run even. Also, Majus beat me to the Shrodinger’s Cat reference.

    April 18, 2010

    Cybertrash said:

    Semi-Ninja’d, but that was the worst interpretation of Schrödinger’s Cat that I’ve ever heard of.

    September 8, 2011

    j said:

    Just finished watching! What I enjoyed the most was the soundtrack… The movie itself is not that bad, just a little off at parts. Enjoyed the cutting and the snipping too. The design of the artificial organs is quite interesting, glue a few gears and tiny valves around them and they’re officially steampunked!

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