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Film / Repo Men

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"If you can't pay for your car, the bank takes it back. If you can't pay for your house, the bank takes it back. If you can't pay for your liver, well, that's where I come in."

In the future humans have extended and improved our lives through highly sophisticated and expensive mechanical organs created by a company called The Union. The dark side of these medical breakthroughs is that if you don't pay your bill, The Union sends its highly skilled repo men to repossess your organs... with no concern for your comfort or survival. Former soldier Remy (Jude Law) is one of the best organ repo men in the business. But when he suffers a cardiac failure on the job, he awakens to find himself fitted with the company's top-of-the-line heart-replacement... as well as a hefty debt. But a side effect of the procedure is that his heart's no longer in the job. When he can't make the payments, The Union sends its toughest enforcer, Remy's former partner Jake (Forest Whitaker), to track him down.

No relation to Repo Man or Repo! The Genetic Opera.

This movie provides examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: This world is not very different from ours (technology, clothes, music...). The only differences are the ubiquity of artificial organs and the fact that it is legal to remove them if the patient cannot pay his bills.
  • All Just a Dream: Well, everything after Jake knocked Remy out, anyways.
  • Arc Words: "You owe it to your family. You owe it to yourself."
  • The Atoner: Remy realizes that seizing organs is a bad thing after he himself gets an artificial heart. In his quest for redemption, he tries to save Beth and even to erase the whole customer file of his former employer.
  • Batman Gambit: Jake's plan. He sabotages Remy's defibrilator, so that it explodes when Remy tries to use it, so that Remy is seriously injured and needs an artificial heart, so that he will keep on working as a repo man to pay for his artificial heart.
  • Black Comedy: All over the place among the repo men in the beginning since their job is to literally kill people and collect their organs if the people do not pay their dues accordingly, Remy included.
  • The Cameo: The RZA makes an appearance as the DJ Remy gets injured repossessing organs from.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The scrambler devices, and more importantly The Neural Net
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • When she appears first, Beth is just a singer in a bar where Remy and Jake have drinks. When Remy meets her again, she becomes his partner in his fight for survival.
    • At first, Ray is just a colleague whom Remy and Jake make fun of. He is more important later when he is sent to catch Remy.
    • The guy disguised as a lung in The Union office. He is first showed as part of the background. He is important later when Remy knocks him down and uses his disguise to enter the office.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Jake and Remy go to "check up" on someone who has fallen behind on his payments and to remind him he's got 3 days left. Before doing so they make a bet on whether he'll run or not and when he does, they laugh and joke that he's going to need a new heart due to panic.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Frank is only looking for profit. He prefers that The Union's customer buy the organs on credit than for cash, because generally they cannot pay the high interest rates, so The Union can remove and resell the organs, which generate higher profits.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Remy and Jake.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Inverted, as Remy only realizes the horror of his profession after his organic heart is replaced with an artificial one.
  • Cyborg: Though it's not a plot point, Beth's state brings up the question, how much of a human you can actually replace with machine parts.
  • Dumb Muscle: Remy and Jake met in 4th grade where Jake was the class bully on account of being much larger than his classmates. He was bigger because he had been held back 3 times.
  • Downer Ending: In the end we find that getting hit with the hook left Remy brain damaged; Jake has paid off Remy's heart implant and is now paying for a neural net so that Remy can live the rest of his life in happiness. This means that Beth is most likely going to be killed and absolutely eviscerated by Jake and the company, and the nightmare will continue on.
  • Dying Dream: Remy himself at the end, possibly.
  • Dystopia: A world where if someone cannot pay for its artificial organs, they are removed and resold, even if it means the death of the patient. Moreover the interest rates offered for buying the organs are very high.
  • Evil Debt Collector: The titular Repo Men are a triumphant case, in that they kill their targets by collecting the "debt."
  • Fantastic Drug: Q, a red powdered drug. Beth is addicted to it.
  • Film of the Book: The Repossession Mambo.
  • Foreshadowing: There are several glimpses and references to The Neural Net throughout the movie before it's revealed most of Remy's actions took place in it.
  • The Hero Dies: It is likely that Remy himself would eventually be dead by the time the credits roll. Though his death is left debatable.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: The penultimate scene in which Remy and Beth have to cut each other open to scan their organs is....well, with the music, and the moans, and the sticking things into other things...
  • Interrupted Intimacy: In the opening sequence, a guy is going to have sex with his girlfriend, but Remy shows up to repossess one of his artificial organ.
  • Karma Houdini: In the end, Jake is not punished for sabotaging Remy's defibrillator, which got him seriously injured and needing an artificial heart. Frank is also able to end with the film facing no consequences as the entire climax where's confronted and killed was all in Remy's dream world.
  • Knight Templar: Jake's job consists basically in killing innocent people, but he is convinced that he is on the good side: he says that he considers his job as very important, because it is good for the society that people respect the contracts they sign.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Remy has spent years chasing people to collect their artificial organs. He ends up being chased by repo men who wants to repossess his artificial heart.
  • Literal Change of Heart: Remy only acts like a decent human being after losing his heart and having it replaced with a mechanical heart.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The Neural Net is a device that allow you to always dream of your personal paradise. In the end, Remy dreams of having drinks with Jake and Beth on a beach.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Jake's obsession with Remy caused a chain of events that began with him sabotaging Remy's defibrillator and ended with him putting Remy into a dream state coma.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Jake tries to convince Remy that repo is what they were meant to do together. They've been together since childhood and a war, so their bond is strong. Strong enough that Jake does underhanded things to make sure they will stay together: he sabotages a defibrillator to nearly kill Remy, which caused him to get an artificial heart. Jake seems to think that Remy will be forced to keep on working as a repo man to pay for his artificial heart.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: Repo Men generally don't care much about making their repossessions neatly. Best example is Jake repossessing some poor man's liver in the middle of a BBQ party in Remy's house, gutting the guy in the back of a taxi, with the steak knife he used to cut apart said BBQ a couple of minutes before. This actually helps Remy when he foils the system into pretending he took Beth's organs when he didn't - he just scratched the barcodes of the artificial organs he was passing for Beth's and pretended that he screwed up their removal.
  • Morton's Fork: Repo Men are legally obliged to ask the people they are repossessing organs from if they wish to call for an ambulance to take them to a hospital after the procedure; but not only are most of said victims unconscious and unable to answer (and in the case of certain organs such as the heart the harvesting is instantly fatal), Remy explains to one who is conscious that, if their HMO is already lousy enough that a Repo Man is bound to come a-knockin', then the hospital won't do anything to save their lives.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Remy writes a book about his former job as a repo man and in his dream the book is finally published.
  • Necessarily Evil: What the Union view their purpose to be, as the boss states in his video. Even resorting to guilt-tripping potential clients, since choosing not to sign up will only hurt their families financially.
  • Offhand Backhand: In the opening sequence, Remy shoots the girlfriend of his customer without looking at her when she tries to attack him.
    • Also Jake just shoving Beth aside when she attacks him.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Remy finds he's received an artificial heart, he starts to panic and demands they take it out.
  • Organ Theft: The Union's business model is an inversion: The Union does not steal organs, it legally seizes unpaid artificial organs.
  • Principles Zealot: Jake thinks that it is necessary to kill innocent people for the sake of the rule of law.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Remy can't bring himself to repossess organs after being a recipient of an organ himself, viewing it as murder. However, he has no problems slicing up his former co-workers and murdering a security guard merely because they work for The Union, probably because those he's trying to repossess are innocent people.
  • Recovered Addict: Beth is addicted to Q, a red, powdered drug. With the help of Remy, she quits.
  • Recursive Canon: Sort of. At the end we see that Remy called his book The Repossession Mambo, which is the name of the book the movie is based on.
  • Redemption Equals Affliction: Remy realizes that seizing organs is a bad thing after he himself gets an artificial heart, so he tries to save Beth and even to erase the whole customer file of his former employer. Subverted: at the end of his quest, he is safe and ends up having drinks on a beach with Jake and Beth. Double subverted: This was All Just a Dream. Actually, he was nearly killed by Jake and ends up in an artificial coma.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The calm Remy is the friend and colleague of the passionate, hot-blooded Jake.
  • Rescue Romance: Remy saves Beth (he saves her from her addiction to Q), then she falls in love with him.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Jake does not want Remy to stop working as a repo man, so he sabotages his defibrillator, which caused him to get an artificial heart. Jake seems to think that Remy will be forced to keep on working as a repo man to pay for his artificial heart.
  • Retirony: T-Bone's job is supposed to be Remy's last job as a repo man. His defibrillator explodes in his hands when he wants to use it. Subverted, because he does not die, but he is seriously injured and needs an artificial heart.
  • The Reveal:
    • When he fights with Remy, Jake reveals that he sabotaged Remy's defibrillator to injure him.
    • In the end, we realize that everything that happened after Jake knocked Remy down was Remy's dream.
  • Ridiculous Repossession: "The Union" has greatly improved the quality of life through the creation of cutting-edge medical implants. However the dark side is that, if the recipients of said implants are unable to keep up with their fees, the Union is legally allowed to send repo men to reclaim the implants (which more often than not will be a fatal procedure, not that the repo men or the Union cares).
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Turns out the last 2/3s of the movie is Remy in a coma, dreaming everything about how he's a badass who defies the company and etc.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Late km the second act, Remy tases his boss unconscious when he gives Remy a speech about how his actions have caused a lot of trouble, his irresponsibility as an organ salesman is why he is in the red and forced to be a repo man again, and begins to give Remy the same spiel he gives to every organ recipient (most of which Remy had to butcher when they could not pay) about how they can arrange a payment method for Remy's heart.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: The boss chews Remy out and is aggravated by customers' complains when they knew what they signed for.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Remy starts as one; should it really take getting an organ himself to realise his targets were like him?
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In the opening scene when Remy removes an organ from a customer while listening to cheerful music. Also during the climax, when Remy and Beth scan each other's organs.
  • Stealth Pun: After Remy receives his artificial heart, he begins to feel for the victims of repossession and rethink the ethics of his job... that is to say, he has a change of heart.
  • The Stinger: A minor one- at the end of the credits, The Union's logo appears, with "All artiforgs are subject to repossession in the event of nonpayment" underneath.
  • Tap on the Head: Played straight when Jake knocks Remy unconscious at the end of the second act. It's revealed at the very end that that blow caused permanent brain damage: the entire third act where The Union was defeated was All Just a Dream.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Remy tries to see his son after he splits up with his wife.
  • You're Insane!: Remy calls Jake "crazy" when he reveals to him that he was the one who rigged the defibrillator which gave Remy a heart attack, forcing him to get the new heart. He did it because he didn't want Remy to quit. He believes their jobs were to be repo men.