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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 take back its property... with no concern for your comfort or survival. Former soldier Remy 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, to track him down.
Notably, the basic premise of the film (large corporation provides organs for transplants but lethally repossesses from anyone who fails to make their payments) appears to be lifted wholesale from Repo! The Genetic Opera. However, careful research reveals it was the pet project of author Eric Garcia (Matchstick Men, Anonymous Rex) since roughly the same time Repo! was in its own embryonic stages. Even the film critics who did not note that similarity, noted that whole bits of the general look, style, direction and concept seemed to have been lifted from Blade Runner, Coma, David Cronenberg's Crash, Logan's Run, Brazil, Total Recall and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
No relation to Repo Man either.
The movie provides examples of:
- All Just a Dream: Well, half of it anyways.
- Arc Words: "You owe it to your family. You owe it to yourself."
- Badass: Remy and Jake.
- Bittersweet Ending: In the end we find that getting hit with the hook left Remy brain damaged; Jake is now paying for a neural net so that Remy can live the rest of his life in happiness. So, while he didn't escape and Beth will probably die, Remy will live out the rest of his life thinking otherwise, sipping drinks on a beach with her and his best friend.
- 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
- Comedic Sociopathy / For the Evulz: Jake and Remy go to "check up" on someone who has fallen behind on their 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 the he does, they laugh and joke that he's going to need a new heart due to panic
- 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.
- Development Hell: Both the book and the film suffered through it. The book was written in 1996 but wasn't published until 2008. Meanwhile, the manuscript had circulated in Hollywood and a film version was greenlighted. The film was made between 2007-2008 but spent two years on the shelf.
- Drop the Hammer
- 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.
- Film of the Book: The Repossesion Mambo.
- Follow the Leader: Just a bit.
- Foreshadowing: The Neural Net
- Heroic Sociopath: Remy starts as one; should it really take getting an organ himself to realise his targets were like him?
- If I Can't Have You: Jake tried 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 was strong. Strong enough that Jake did underhanded things to make sure they'd stay together. a rigged a defibrillator nearly killed Remy / causing him to get an auto heart / after finding out about the "last job", Carol divorced Remy / Remy's love interest, Beth, motivated Jake even more / a last showdown caused Jake to put Remy in a dream state coma / and its highly likely that Beth was killed.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: The penulitimate 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...
- Karma Houdini: Double Subverted.
- Literal Change of Heart: Remy only acts like a decent human being after losing his heart and having it replaced with a mechanical heart.
- 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.
- Mind Screw: See Bittersweet Ending.
- Moral Dissonance: 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.
- Lotus Eater Machine
- Organ Theft: The Union's business model is a subversion.
- Punch Clock Villain: Jake seems to qualify.
- Resignations Not Accepted
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Most definitely.
- Snicket Warning Label: Stop when they are at the beach, trust me, your brain will be better off that way, both physically and mentally.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Soooooooooooooooooooo much.
- Status Quo Is God: Jake seems perfectly happy with the way everything works. He likes it so much he hates (and would even kill) anyone who disrespects it or criticize it.
- 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.
- Stun Guns: The weapon of choice for the repo men. Averted when one is used with lethal consequence during Remy's raid.
- Title Drop: Sort of. At the end we see that Remy called his story The Repossesion Mambo, which is the name of the book the movie is based on.
- Utopia Justifies the Means
- X Meets Y: Repo Men could be summarized as "the plot of Equilibrium in the setting of Repo! The Genetic Opera with the aesthetic of Minority Report." And the ending of Brazil.
- ~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.