Move over, death panels. Giving new meaning to Shakespeare’s pre-US medical industry metaphor ‘a pound of flesh,’ the futuristic yet not so farfetched invasive surgical thriller Repo Men takes the notion of health care for profit to scary extremes. And with health insurance terror tactics already embedded in collective audience psyches, elaborate sci-fi fantasy here is hardly a pressing requirement, though it unspools with unrelenting gusto.
Jude Law is Remy in Repo Men, a failed family man, former Special Ops terminator and workaholic collection agency enforcer trained by a medical conglomerate called The Union, in ruthless methods to reclaim the synthetic organs from recipients delinquent in insurance payments. In other words, homicidal impromptu surgery without benefit of anesthesia.
And while Remy is getting increasingly jaded with his dehumanizing career, which entails the repo rowdies cruising around with mobile payment overdue scanners for final notice default customers, even as an emerging recipients resistance movement kicks in, partner Jake (Forest Whitaker) thrives on the sadistic thrills of the chase. So when Remy mulls his resignation, Jake and company suit Frank (Liev Schrieber) concoct an offer you can’t refuse conspiracy to implant the potential insubordinate with a spare parts organ he doesn’t actually need, in order to keep the drone financially indebted and therefore perpetually loyal to the company.
With those futuristic artificial human organs a big business in this very different kind of meat market, consumers are of course a must. And, in much the same way that the US pharmaceutical industry in the real world, constantly harasses doctors and now the public with commercials peddling all sorts of misleading information about prescription drugs that people don’t actually need, in order to keep those medication assembly lines rolling. So it’s beyond simply suspicion that the characters in this film are walking around with many more multiple makeover transplants and anatomical upgrades than is essential or wise to own on the organ installment plan, and in order to financially enrich the manufacturers.
Which renders this transplant takeout, heart-less in more ways than one thriller as weirdly terrifying as can be, with its future as now, too close for comfort health scare scenario. And though much too over the top at times when we more than get the point, Repo Men is an exceedingly effective thinking human’s thriller that needs no warranty.