Repo Men: Libertarian Dream
Ah, the off-season sci-fi blockbuster wannabe. There's always something half-assed about you (Watchmen, Race to Witch Mountain, Ultraviolet, Doomsday), but you try so hard to please. Repo Men is the newest in a long, undignified series of junky films with decent pedigrees (Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, and Liev Schreiber star in a story based on Eric Garcia's popular pulpy sci-fi novel The Repossession Mambo), and in that context, it's not so very bad. But that's one hell of a qualifier.
Law stars as Remy, an organ-repossession expert who works in a future America that is some kind of libertarian's dream: If you can't afford your organ transplant, Remy finds you, digs it out of you, and leaves you to die. Of course, there's a twist that shakes up the status quo (Remy gets an artificial heart that he can't afford) and the machine must be suitably raged against. Law and Whitaker play childhood friends and partners in the repossession biz, and their easy banter and playground-style roughhousing are pretty charming for a good chunk of the film. Whitaker, especially, revels in being a badass, brandishing weapons with a kind of priapic glee. Schreiber plays an organ salesman with manly smarm. And there's a girl, too (Alice Braga, lithe and sexy in a nicely un-Hollywood way).
Repo Men has a whole lot of wasted potential: Tremendous opportunities for commentary about the current health-care mess go mostly unmined, and several clever side characters remain unexplored. In the place of these lost possibilities, we get long, dry stretches of plot livened up with incredibly gory violence. Law's enthusiasm for the role can't obscure the fact that it should've gone to someone with more raw physicality (like Jason Statham), and the twists are fairly obligatory. Still, there's something likable about Repo Men hidden in all the dreck and ooze and latex and gore. You just have to sit through a whole lot of nothing to get to it.