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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Repo Men

By
John P. McCarthy
Source: Catholic News Service

The last time Forest Whitaker was paired with an actor hailing from Great Britain—namely James McAvoy in "The Last King of Scotland" —he won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

In the futuristic thriller "Repo Men" (Universal), he co-stars alongside Englishman Jude Law. No awards are in the offing, but, in addition to Whitaker, the two films share unspeakable brutality. Indeed, with all due respect to Amin's real-life victims, what transpires here, though fictional, is arguably more disturbing and exponentially more gruesome than the reign of terror depicted in that estimable 2006 movie.

Law and Whitaker portray Remy and Jake—schoolyard rivals, Army buddies, and now, in the near future, colleagues within a division of a corporation called The Union. Part soldiers, part hack surgeons, their job is to repossess artificial human organs when the recipient has fallen behind on the exorbitant interest payments. They stun their victims and then slice them open without benefit of painkillers or any hygienic precautions.

It's difficult to imagine a more revolting or wicked practice. And because it has no redeeming qualities to offset the butchery and degradation, "Repo Men" counts among the most distasteful movies to appear in recent years. The participation of serious actors such as Whitaker, Law and Liev Schreiber, who plays Jake and Remy's boss Frank, only adds insult to injury.

At the urging of his wife, Remy agrees to find a new line of work but experiences a life-altering health complication while carrying out his last assignment. Jake, who is none too happy about his partner's pending career reinvention, becomes his adversary. Alice Braga appears in the role of Beth, a lounge singer and drug addict with whom Remy then goes underground.

Comprised of used and barely functioning parts, "Repo Men" is a clunker no matter how you look at it—a technically undistinguished orgy of violence and patently immoral behavior. Adapted by Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner from Garcia's novel "The Repossession Mambo," the movie's science-fiction chassis, which features a major twist involving virtual technology, doesn't in the least excuse its trashiness.

At the outset, Remy poses a conundrum about how a cat placed in a box can be both dead and alive at the same time. The puzzle has some relevance to his fate, but a great deal more to that of audience members who will necessarily experience a deadening sensation.

The film contains unrelenting brutal, graphic violence; grisly images of surgical incisions and operations; instances of drug use; fleeting glimpses of bystanders engaged in sex acts; several implied or simulated nonmarital sexual encounters between the leading male and female characters; partial rear nudity; and pervasive rough, crude and profane language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John P. McCarthy  is a guest reviewer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film & Broadcasting.


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John of Capistrano: It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events. 
<p>Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times. </p><p>John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later. </p><p>His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. </p><p>The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the "Spirituals" were freed from interference in their stricter observance. </p><p>He helped bring about a reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches, unfortunately only a brief arrangement. </p><p>When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died October 23, 1456.</p> American Catholic Blog When we are linked by the power of prayer, we as it were, hold each other’s hand as we walk side by side along a slippery path; and thus by the bounteous disposition of charity, it comes about that the harder each one leans on the other, the more firmly we are riveted together in brotherly love. —St. Gregory the Great

 
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