by HELEN GEIB
To: The People Who Made Repo Men
From: A Dissatisfied Customer
Re: Your Movie and Why It Isn’t Very Good
I feel I should start right off by saying that I did not hate your movie. I never once thought about walking out before it was over. You came up with a great premise. There were scenes that I enjoyed and that, standing alone were quite effective. Mr. Liev Schreiber was really fantastic. However, your movie really isn’t very good, and I’d like to talk about some of the reasons why.
Returning for a moment to the great premise, I presume I should give credit on that point to Mr. Eric Garcia, co-screenwriter and author of The Repossession Mambo, the novel on which your film is based. It really is an intriguing idea for a movie. The dystopian future looks pretty much like today’s world except it’s a legal and socially accepted business practice to sell artificial organs on the installment plan (at usurious interest rates, no less) and then repossess them from – as in cut them out of – the customer-recipients when they fall three months behind on their payments. What a great set-up! It had me really looking forward to a dark, vicious, scathing satire of rampant consumer culture and the predatory corporations that feed on it.
Only your movie isn’t dark, vicious, or scathing. And it’s kind of hard to tell what the target of your satire actually is, what with the gruesome slaughter, the love story, the poignant father-son relationship, the knife and gun action, and all the other stuff that you threw into the mix.
Your protagonist (the very attractive Mr. Jude Law, inexplicably speaking in his sexy English accent) is one of the “repo men” of the title. In other words, he’s a serial killer who kills for a paycheck. That makes him despicable and monstrous. Yes, yes, I know he has a change of heart and doesn’t want to kill people for their organs anymore after he becomes an unwilling organ recipient himself, but that doesn’t change the essential fact that he is a despicable, monstrous serial killer. He is in no way and under no possible way of looking at things a sympathetic and attractive hero.
WHY COULDN’T YOU SEE THAT?!
Let’s turn for a moment to the supporting characters. Mr. Forest Whitaker plays the professional partner and best friend since childhood of Mr. Law’s “hero.” So far, so good. I greatly admire Mr. Whitaker and enjoyed his performance in your movie. Mr. Garcia and Mr. Garrett Lerner’s screenplay is also more on target with Mr. Whitaker’s character, who is much closer to monstrous than Mr. Law’s. The problem is that a crucial plot point presupposes that he is not only monstrous, but obsessively, psychotically attached to his friend. That just never comes across.
Now, Mr. Schreiber’s corporate honcho. How delightfully evil. How deliciously sleazy. How wonderfully despicable. I relished his every appearance on the screen, as he demonstrated the potential of your darkly satiric premise. If only the rest of your movie had taken its lead from his character and performance.
My issue is not with the action (or with the gore, which I’ve sadly become largely inured to). I love a good action sequence. The action in your movie, under Mr. Miguel Sapochnik’s direction, is okay. You could have put in a lot more action and I wouldn’t have complained- if, and it’s a big if, you hadn’t pulled your punches with the story, the themes, and the characters.
Although I could go on, I feel that I’ve already given more than enough of my time to your movie. I’d just like to end by emphasizing that my issue is also not with your trick ending. I’m not convinced it was the best possible ending, but I can see that you’d written yourselves into a corner and that that ending got you out of it. It was admittedly much more plausible than the alternative. On the other hand, I think we can all agree that plausibility was never one of your main concerns, even in the beginning.
For all these reasons and more, I can only give your movie 1 star out of 4.
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