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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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Matthew: Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. The Romans were not scrupulous about what the "tax farmers" got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as "publicans," were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with "sinners" (see Matthew 9:11-13). So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers. 
<p>Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that "many" tax collectors and "those known as sinners" came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus' answer was, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners" (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important. </p><p>No other particular incidents about Matthew are found in the New Testament.</p> American Catholic Blog The most appealing invitation to embrace the religious life is the witness of our own lives, the spirit in which we react to our divine calling, the completeness of our dedication, the generosity and cheerfulness of our service to God, the love we have for one another, the apostolic zeal with which we witness to Christ’s love for the poorest of the poor.

 
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