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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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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.

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