Repo Men: * 3/4 (out of 4)

$10,804.47: that's the monthly rate to pay off $680,000 at a 19% APR over 30 years. Admittedly, I had to make up that last number; no explicit repayment time was mentioned in Repo Men. But the other two numbers were mentioned early in the movie, quoting the price of an artificial spleen to an apparently moderately-well-off man in his 40s or 50s.

From that moment on, I spent the movie trying to figure out if the units were off somehow, watching for indications of massive inflation. I never did see any; but my interest in the movie itself was immediately gone.

It can't be a good thing when economics is more interesting than your story.

Repo Men (sadly not a sequel to the Emilio Estevez vehicle Repo Man from 1984) is a story about a man who reclaims those expensive organs for a living (an apparently socially-acceptable job). After he starts to decide that maybe this isn't the job for him, he gets injured out on a job and his bosses give him an artificial heart. Soon enough, he determines that he can't kill people for a living anymore, and is scheduled for reclamation himself. Cue Logan's Run.

There were a few good humorous and/or clever bits, and the acting was fine. Sadly, that's about all that was good. The story was derivative and uninteresting; the characters themselves were poorly thought-out and uninteresting; and the action scenes were bland and, once again, uninteresting. The special effects mostly consisted of throwing a lot of virtual blood around the screen. There weren't any realistic or sympathetic characters. All in all, there wasn't much that wasn't bland and unlikeable.

I know what would have saved it for me, though: fixing the numbers. Make the price of a new spleen $68k at a 9% APR, and you've suddenly got a business model that fits into the world; yes, there would be changes (ala Shadowrun and various other Cyberpunk universes), but the idea that people can scramble to afford an extra $550 car payment makes a whole lot more sense than the idea that they can scramble to pay for an extra luxury mansion. Expand on the idea of the black market in organs - somebody carrying around organs like that has got to be worth a fortune, making muggings much more interesting! And make the crux of this movie revolve around an insurance case - the company should be paying for injuries obtained in the line of duty in the first place, after all!

Instead, the absurdities just cascaded. There are down-on-their-luck singers out there with eight separate replacement body parts, including several internal organs (I'm willing to concede that artificial ears and knees might be relatively cheap). Nobody really seemed to mind in a legal way that there were people wandering around cutting open and killing people - well, just men, a line was apparently drawn somewhere in production - in broad daylight. Loans were still being given out to people that couldn't possibly afford to pay them back, and in fact the idea of a loan being paid back was explicitly poo-pooed. There were automatic tasers all over the place. And so forth.

Instead of a decent science fiction movie, we get a third-rate thriller. It's a shame to see producers more interested in some gross-out scenes and stupid action sequences to explore what could be a fairly decent high concept. shrug I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Go see something else.

* 3/4