Something In The Air
A semi-autobiographical drama from director Olivier Assayas set in 1970s Paris
If you don't keep up the payments on your new liver, kidney or heart, Jude Law and Forest Whitaker are coming to take it back with some improvised surgery
Jude Law's well-documented penchant for sleazing around with the help makes him hard to buy as a romantic lead these days. Wisely, he has sought out roles that do not require an audience to swoon over him. Less wisely, these roles include that of Remy the Repo Man, who lives in a Blade Runner-lite future urban dystopia (NB: this film has absolutely nothing to do with Alex Cox's singular Repo Man). Remy's paycheque is literally blood money - he tracks down and slices open people who have failed to keep up the credit payments on their artificial organ transplants.
He's pulled in two directions by a pain-in-the-arse frosty wife (Carice van Houten in a thankless role) and his devil-may-care repo colleague Jake, played Forest Whitaker, who is far too charismatic for the part and needs to get himself a better agent. His Oscar for The Last King Of Scotland was not that long ago; he shouldn't have to be doing this stuff.
Rounding out this cast of lost souls, Liev Schrieber, increasingly the poster-boy du jour for puffy-faced corporate wrong-doing (and here resembling the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in a well-cut suit), has loads of fun as the amoral boss of the evil organ donation company. And it is indeed an evil company. For one thing, if you have the technology to manufacture organs, you probably have the technology to incorporate a way of switching them off with a remote control, which would be a lot tidier that sending the boys round with a big knife. But less evil. To be fair, Remote-Controlled Organ Failure Men would be a less catchy pitch.
The film starts reasonably enough, if you buy the silly premise, and rattles along in a guiltily pleasurable way for a good 30 minutes. Thereafter, the rot truly sets in, with an underdeveloped divorce plot squeezed in for no especial reason, a casual voiceover striving for the type of sang froid Guy Ritchie thinks is cool (be worried when the effect you are striving for has anything to do with Guy Ritchie), a completely chemistry-free romance, sick-makingly cute score and wilful misappropriation of the Schrodinger's cat paradox.
Though Repo Man is unmistakably a mess, it must be admitted that it contains some defiantly silly and entertaining moments. Anything set in the future that manages to incorporate the imperative "Grab the typewriter!" into an action sequence cannot be all bad. There's also a splendidly ridiculous scene of Jude Law doing knife crime. Then hacksaw crime. Then - stop! - hammer crime. It's The Matrix meets Handy Andy in a world where nothing is as it seems and everything is moronic.
This is a shame, especially since there's always room at the sci-fi party for another guilty pleasure in the sub-category "madcap dystopian body horror". Does Repo Men go too far, or does it not go far enough? It most certainly goes too far with a particularly silly plot twist worthy of Dallas in the second half, but individual sequences don't go far enough. If you're going to end your film with Jude Law and some chick doing a strange organ-penetrating death-sex-mess scene on what a table might look like if Apple made corporate furniture in the far future, in heaven, in an advert, why hold back? There should be Re-Animator's merry use of innards as weapons, there should be wound-sex, Crash-style, and the whole bloody jangling butcher's shop tango should climax with an homage to Brian Yuzna's Society with Liev Schreiber and Forest Whitaker deciding to get involved too. It would be no less mad, and approximately ten thousand times funnier than what actually happens. Sadly, Repo Men just doesn't have the guts.
Register for this organ donation farce at your peril - despite a sprinkling of vaguely entertaining gore and unintentional laugh out loud silliness, the body-part the Repo Men are out to mangle first is your brain.
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Coming to cinemas, TV, DVD/Blu-ray, video-on-demand and Film4 Channel on July 5th is Ben Wheatley's latest, the Film4-backed A Field In England. And we're excited to unveil not only the new quad poste