thumbnail review: "repo men"

the morning before i went to see repo men, the reviews from the first day release came out. i read two of them, one from the sf signal blog and one from scifi wire. had either of them said the same thing about the same thing at the same time, i might have taken them seriously; as it was, they both complained about diametrically opposing things. which actually brought up another question:

the f/sf/horror community bitches like mad whenever they feel they’re not being “taken seriously” (witness last year’s hooferaw over whether or not heath ledger would win an oscar for dark knight and this year’s complaints over oscar nominees; see also any debate over book top 10 lists and genre inclusion or exclusion thereupon), but yet when something like “repo men” comes out which isn’t brilliant or world-changing, but is a pretty solid piece of dystopic sf, that same group of bloggers, writers, reviewers, fans, etc., descend upon it like harpies to rip it into shreds? how, exactly, do you expect to get respect from someone else when you clearly don’t respect what members of your own group produce? i realise there’s a valuable conversation to be had about producing good stuff rather than just random crap, but surely knocking everything that comes down the pike because it isn’t blade runner or a george romero movie (most of which are pretty darn low-quality, despite their endless amusement value) or whatever asimov/heinlein novel is top of the pile this week is just as foolish as exalting every f/sf/horror production just because that’s what it is.

i don’t know as i had any particular answer to this question but, in spite of the bad reviews from both the wire and sf signal, i enjoyed the movie. the previews were wretched; the only good one — for predators — i’d watched the day before; i’m actually anticipatory enough about it that i’ve linked the trailer down there. the others just made me feel as though i were losing brain cells by watching them. kick-ass, i admit, looks intriguing, but not enough to make me pay $6 to see it in the theatre, much as i like how matthew vaughan puts together a movie. the uber-clever woman/man-child trope is a bit…motion-sickness inducing to watch every now and then. it was pleasant to see mark strong showing up in so many things although i’m really sorry that he’s in the new russell crowe robin hood, ’cause, man, that just looks fucking hilarious and not in a good way. ridley scott has clearly simply lost his marbles.

anyway, the actual movie was pretty good. it could have been a gorebath — one of the reviews cited above actually complained that it wasn’t bloody enough — honestly, i’m somewhat relieved it wasn’t worse. it could have been very, very nasty indeed given the nature of the story which, in case you don’t know, follows two repo[session] men who work for the union, a company which has taken over the production and sale of artificial organs of all kinds. if you can’t make the payments on your new liver, the repo men take it back. they don’t give you another one in return. anyone with a vivid imagination can see really quickly how this could just turn into a saw-style bloodbath. it didn’t — on the other hand, i think the “surgery” scenes could have been done even more effectively and showed next to nothing. as it was, you were never quite sure if you were going to see blood ‘n guts or not — and when you did, the makeup effects weren’t that good. a couple of times, they looked very fake indeed. so, really, the producers could have saved themselves a headache, done a little lateral thinking, and rescued the entire situation.

what i really wish they had done is hired one of matthew vaughan’s editors (and soundtrack editors, too — the music needed a serious poke in the ass). the entire film just begged to be edited like lock, stock, and 2 smoking barrels — it desperately wanted to be a rock video and, instead, it was put together sort of like a star trek movie: plenty of slow pans, close-ups, unnecessary walking scenes, etc. really, a lot of stuff that just slowed the story down and gave you too much time to think about plot holes. of which there are, by the way, plenty. don’t think about it too hard, and you’ll enjoy the movie much more.

and, really, it’s worth enjoying. jude law looks like he is having the time of his life (i retract my previous statement: he makes a pretty fair badass) and there is one beautiful fight sequence at the end of the film — about 10 minutes from the end, i’d say — that makes it worth the wait. i love a man who’s willing to use a ballpeen hammer as a serious offensive weapon.

plus, i have to say, i approve of the female lead, beth, played by alice braga who is also in the new predators. she was intelligent, independent, clever, resourceful, resilient, and armed: much closer to the alice/jill valentine/selene model of the genre heroine. the script also didn’t use her too much for t&a — no more than they did jude law, anyway, which at least makes the unfairness somewhat fairly distributed.

i’m a fan of “fuck you” endings, so i enjoyed the ending of this. i won’t spoiler what happens here; suffice it to say when you start to think, “really? this is really happening? wouldn’t that, y’know, kill you?” pay attention to that little voice.

all that being said, with georgia rule as the all-time low of “movies i have paid for in the theatre,” this was nowhere near that bad. 🙂

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