Sunday, June 18, 2006

Repo Man

I’m sure there are movies about modern-day street warriors that are better than “Repo Man,” movies with better punk soundtracks and more bizarre, dark humor. I’m sure Emilio Estevez has probably made better movies. The problem is, after watching “Repo Man” last night, I can’t think of any. This movie totally blew my mind, and I’m lovin’ it!
Displaying the baby-faced punk attitude that made him great in “The Breakfast Club” and “Men at Work,” Estevez plays 18-year-old Otto, a broke, bored underachiever with a bad attitude and no prospects. He falls in with a colorful bunch of characters at a car repossession business. Under the mentorship of Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), Otto learns the Repo Man Code and, oddly enough, finds meaning and purpose in his new job. Meanwhile, an apparently insane guy in a ’64 Chevy Malibu has made his way from Los Alamos, NM to Los Angeles with a trunk full of deadly government secrets. The government puts out a fat bounty on the Malibu, which sets Otto and every other Repo Man in L.A. hunting for it. This is all set against a backdrop of seedy, low-rent L.A. suburbs, with a killer punk soundtrack including Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Iggy Pop, and a live performance by the Circle Jerks.
“Repo Man” is a cult classic in the best sense because it consistently holds onto its sense of the absurd without having to wink at the camera. It reminds me of the movie “Tremors.” Both are bizarro, sci-fi fun-fests that stand up well to repeat viewings.
In a lesser film, where the characters and dialog would be merely vehicles to forward the plot, we would be unlikely to suspend our disbelief enough to follow such an unlikely story. Certain other films go ahead and acknowledge their absurdity, so we don’t have to bother with suspension of disbelief, but they bend over backwards to let us know how clever they are, with their tongue-in-cheek and all (The “Austin Powers” movies come to mind). “Repo Man” doesn’t suffer from any of that crap. The characters are intriguing, and time is taken to develop them with scenes that simmer with fun dialog and action.
In a lesser movie, Otto would get the girl, or save the day, or come to some great realization. In “Repo Man,” the only revelation is something we have already figured out for ourselves: “This Repo Man thing is intense!”
4.5 stars.

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