starring Jude Law, Forrest Whitaker, and Liev Schrieber
directed by Miguel Sapochnik
screenplay by Eric Garcia & Garrett Lerner
based on the novel by Eric Garcia, The Repossession Mambo
Universal Pictures (2010)
I'm not sure how well this movie did at the box office, but I'd wager it didn't fare so well. It's a dark action film with a pretty disturbing premise for your average movie audience. Oh, it has its share of laughs alright, but you need a pretty sardonic sense of humor to appreciate it. I mean, it's about a guy who repossesses artificial organs from people when they can't make their payments. That's dark.
Jude Law takes the lead role as Remy, a family man who lives for his job. So much so, it strains his marriage to the point where he's given an ultimatum: Quit repo for something tamer, like the sales department, or lose his wife and son. Spoiler alert: He chooses his job, a choice he lives to regret. At least he has his long-time friend and partner in repo, Forrest Whitaker.
But while he's on one of his jobs, repossessing the heart of one of his favorite singers--he's a jazz fan--in a not so subtle bit symbolism, an accident happens with his defibrillator and winds up nearly dying himself. Fortunately for him, as far as his peers are concerned, he's given an artificial heart of his own. Not so fortunate for him, once he's back on the job, the poor bastard accumulates a conscience and bring himself to repo anymore. And the payments on his new heart are past due.
The world in this film has one of those near-future, quasi-dystopian feels to it. A bit clearer border between the lives of those who have and those who have not. When Remy finds himself stepping from one world into the other, he's reminded over and over again that his job took a whole lot more than expensive medical gadgets. Law offers a very sympathetic, almost surprisingly so, guy who reckons with his deeds and his new ordeal as a man being hunted by the same company he once worked for. As for Forrest Whitaker, there is a crazy edge to his performance where he seems to straddle the camaraderie with Law's character and outright, batshit insanity. He loves his job even more than Remy--maybe too much.
Alice Braga appears as a lounge singer and Artiforg recipient on the run as well. She becomes a kind of love interest for Remy, but she's really a road to redemption, as he spends his time protecting her when his old self would have looked out solely for himself.
The movie dips and dives with its tone. At one point, it's a bit satirical and charming with its bleak humor towards the subject matter. Then, the film will veer into some heavy and nearly overwrought drama during the serious moments. But I thought it worked. And the sparse action scenes, particularly a fight scene towards the very end of the film, are downright mesmerizing. Maybe that's because I was pleasantly surprised at how well Jude Law handled the action star aspects of his role. Given the less-than-glowing reviews I had seen for this movie when it was in theaters, I wasn't expecting much. I read the book and thought it good though, and that helped in boosting my desire to see this one. And I'm glad I did. It's worth checking out if you are in the mood for a sci-fi film.