Repo Men deserves some kind of award, as it very nearly succeeds in making an entire movie by taking pieces from nearly every critical or commercial success from the past decade.
Opening with a radio broadcast about the economy crashing, the war going on, and how life generally sucks, the film establishes its dystopian setting cheaply. From there the film focuses on Remy (Jude Law), a "Repo man" (read: assassin) who, in a rather bloody opening collects a liver from an unfortunate guy who defaulted on his payments to the sinister megacorporation, Union.
Remy works with Jake (Forest Whitaker), his best friend from childhood, and has barbecues with his rough-tough-tattooed-blue-collar co-workers. It's never really explained how Remy has a Cockney accent if he grew up in Anytown, U.S.A., but it certainly adds weight to the whole “I’m a working-class bloke” vibe, where the motto is, "a job's a job."
Their manager, Frank (Liev Schreiber), is as oily as they come. Part used car salesman, part sleazy home loan officer, Frank speaks in that generic movie ‘Merican businessman accent, and is an undemanding boss. He sells people new organs with meaningless buzzwords and platitudes, then coldly orders the "Repo" when the customer's can't pay.
Remy’s life goes completely south when he tries to repossess the heart of a music producer, TBone (RZA), and destroys his own heart with a malfunctioning defibrillator and then waking up in a hospital with a metaphor jammed into his chest. Naturally, with this new liberal heart, he can no longer do his job because he has new-found sympathy for the clients. Eventually he meets Beth (Alice Braga), a lounge singer with a heart of gold (presumably her own), and more replacement parts than a NFL player retirement home. We'll let you guess if they do the Dirty Boogie at some point.
Following the rules of action thrillers, the other Repo Men are sent to hunt them down, leading to several fight sequences, one very much like the fight from Oldboy (hammer and all), followed by a scene where they each have to scan their robot parts to get themselves out of the system. It’s filmed like a sex scene, except that they're slicing each other open, so it's all kinds of wrong. This all culminates in an ending that, while it's the film's one saving grace, is still ripped straight from Brazil.
Overall, the movie is solid, but borrows too heavily on other films without bringing anything new. There are some nice twists, and the production is top notch. The soundtrack mixes six decades of pop culture, much like the visuals. The actors are giving it their all -especially Whitaker- and the jet black humor helps smooth things over. However,y derivative, it never finds a voice of it’s own. Finally, since we all know what's going to happen up to a point, the audience spends most of the time just waiting to get there.
Come to think of it, Gamer was ALSO really derivative and make for a decent pairing with this movie. Sort of a, “we liked it better when they did it in 'X.'”