Not, thankfully, a larger remake of Alex Cox's cult classic Repo Man – "now with extra Repo personnel!" – Miguel Sepochnik's blood-splattered sci-fi surprises in a number of ways. First of all, it's run through with a pretty decent vein in satire. Secondly (and are you reading this Michael Bay and, frankly, just about everyone in Hollywood at the moment?) it has action sequences where you can actually see what's going on. Thirdly, it has a couple of twists that actually work rather well.
It's the fourth one that doesn't so much surprise as shock: Jude Law is actually quite bearable. Indeed, you might even go so far as to say he's good. Here at Team Screenjabber, we haven't been particularly nice to Mr Law over the years, but then hey, we've had to sit through utter ploppies like Sleuth, Alfie and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow – so we've paid our dues. We're entitled to this level of bile. However, credit where credit is due because this is a fine lead performance. Well, once you've glossed over how a kid who grew up in the US still has a pure London accent...
Law plays Remy who, as the title suggests, is a Repo Man. If you default on your car or house, you'd expect the bank to take it away. That's not Remy's line of expertise though. Remy is in the "artiforg" business. That's short for "artifical organs", the clever bits of equipment that Remy's company, The Union, manufactures, sells and installs – for very large sums – in members of the population. Make your payments and you'll enjoy many more years with perfect lungs, kidneys, hearts, etc. Miss a few payments though and The Union is going to come and collect. Not the outstanding money – "different department" as Remy points out to one poor pleading soul – but the organ itself.
Under pressure from his wife (van Houten), Remy wants to move into sales, away from the late night guerilla-style recovery operations with old friend Jake (Whitaker). Unfortunately, when a collection goes wrong, Remy comes round from his coma to discover that he now has a Union unit where his heart used to be, and a salary that comes nowhere near covering the costs. It's not a situation that can ever end prettily.
Scientific progress and corporate evil have often been fine sci-fi bedfellows (Total Recall, RoboCop) and, while Repo Men isn't necessarily in their league, it's still a very enjoyable, grisly and darkly amusing experience. Political points are made and made well, without necessarily beating the moral into the audience, and there are very tidy performances all round, particularly Whitaker (nobody can do mildly deranged like Forest W) and Schreiber as their slick, shallow boss. While it may appear to lose its way towards the end, stick with it as there's still a trick or two up its sleeve. No classic then, but a thought-provoking, intriguing diversion nonetheless.
EXTRAS ★★★ You have a choice of watchign the theatrical cut of the film, or the harder "unrated" version – which includes an extra eight minutes of gory footage cut from the theatrical release. Nice. You can also watch it with an audio commentary from director Sapochnik and writers Garcia and Lerner. Then there are five deleted or extended scenes, with an optional commentary from the aforementioned trio. Plus seven "Union" commercials and the six-minute featurette Inside the Visual Effects, Plus more when you coonect to What's new if your Blu-ray player is online.