Remi (Law) is a repo man working for faceless corporation The Union, collecting artificial organs ArtifOrgs from struggling creditors. But when a mishap on the job leaves him with an ArtifOrg of his own, Remi finds the full force of the company and ol
This high-concept sci-fi looked like the year’s most perfectly timed release. What better moment to hit cinemas with a satire on greedy medical corporations than the weekend Obama pushed his healthcare reforms through Congress? And when better to take a scalpel to modern debt culture than the year we felt credit really start to crunch?
Except, well, not so much. A dismal $6 million opening weekend in the US was proof that surfing the zeitgeist doesn’t always pay. Yet for the first half hour, there’s plenty to resonate with audiences. The premise is simple. Medical corporation The Union farms out new organs to the frail or aspirational at eye-watering rates of interest. Cue repo men Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) dispatched by Liev Schreiber’s exec to slice and dice their way around the unnamed city, retrieving the chrome organs from defaulting schmoes.
The repossessions are played for every drop of gory, black humour as Remy and Jake pull organs from chests with blank-eyed glee, but what could be a potent sci-fi allegory for living beyond our means degenerates into brainless action fodder, as an accident — and an artificial heart of his own — puts Remy on the run from his employers.
Despite Law’s efforts to imbue him with conviction, Remy’s road to redemption plays like The Island meets Crank 2. A series of blood-splattered fight scenes leads to some inspired moments — one of the face-offs, a demented homage to Old Boy, offers the sight of Alfie going about a gang of company suits with a hammer and a hacksaw — but every punch thrown moves the film further from black satire and closer to uninspired genre piece.
Proof? Well, there’s the thin back story provided by Remy’s ex-wife (an underused Carice van Houten), and obligatory love interest (Alice Braga’s doe-eyed junkie, a patchwork quilt of ArtifOrgs herself), but while Forest Whitaker’s conflicted thug brings languid menace, there’s little to up the tension. And among all the film’s icky incisions, there’s a feeling a better movie is lying on the cutting room floor.
Law provides the brawn, theres no shortage of guts, but along the line the brains gone AWOL.