March 19, 2010 at 1:00 am

Tom Long Film Review: 'Repo Men' -- GRADE: B-

Review: Outrageous 'Repo Men' a dark tale of greed and body parts

Remy (Jude Law) repossesses organs from clients who fall more than 90 days behind on their payments for the body parts in "Repo Men." (Universal Pictures)

Straddling the line between black comedy and sci-fi thriller, "Repo Men" is a garish and gory look at the intersect between capitalism and mortality.

It's set in a future where artificial body parts have been perfected. Your liver's failing? No problem, you can buy another one. Just sign on the dotted line.

Unfortunately, these body parts cost as much as a house. Luckily, you can take out a loan, at 19-percent interest.

But if you fall more than 90 days behind on your payments, a repo man will visit you, cut out that liver and leave you dead on your living room floor.

Talk about harsh penalties.

Two of those repo men are family fellow Remy (Jude Law) and his lifelong best buddy, swinging bachelor Jake (Forest Whitaker -- also currently playing a swinging bachelor in "Our Family Wedding." When did Forest Whitaker become such a wild and crazy guy?).

Separately and together they harvest eyeballs, hearts, lungs and every other part available, earning commissions from the nefarious company marketing the body parts, working for their callous boss Frank (deliciously amoral Liev Schreiber).

But Remy's wife (Carice van Houten) wants him to switch to sales -- not for the money but to get rid of the social stigma of being a repo man. Remy has just decided to give in to her when he has an accident and wakes up with an artificial heart.

Actually, his new heart turns out to have some, well, heart, and he suddenly finds himself incapable of cutting people open. Which means he can't earn money. Which means he, too, becomes the target of repo men, including Jake.

On the run, he hooks up with Beth (Alice Braga), a virtual laundry list of artificial body parts, and Remy discovers the underworld of surgically augmented humans on the run from their debts.

Director Miguel Sapochnik seems to really enjoy scalpel scenes, and there are countless bloody incisions in this movie, just as there are many bloodbath fight sequences. You might not want to have a big meal before going to see this film.

And it feels as if the script by Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner (based on Garcia's novel "The Repossession Mambo") took a few nasty cuts here and there. No matter what, the continuity here is ragged at times.

But the film's saving grace is its sense of humor, which never wavers. The blithe way Jake and Remy approach their grim work, Frank's blunt appraisals and sales pitches, the constant over-the-top bloodletting, it's all played for both shock and laughter.

By the time Beth is having her knee replaced by a gleeful 11-year-old black market surgeon, the film has gotten absolutely giddy with absurd situations.

And yet there's something here that doesn't seem all that far-fetched. Who's to say you won't be able to put an artificial eyeball on your credit card in 20 years? And what will happen when you lose your job and can't keep up payments?

OK, some guy probably won't show up to claim it like a Volkswagen that's three months behind.

Probably.

Still, "Repo Men," rough though it is, is disturbing enough, funny enough and shocking enough to work on some weird level. Worried about losing your home? Well, things could be worse.

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