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'Repo Men' takes on health care


In the near future, an artificial organ company decides not to tolerate late payments.


Surprisingly engrossing, with an emphasis on the gross.


Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Alice Braga, Liev Schreiber



Up in the ranks of big-time filmmaking, the war in Iraq is the big issue: See the Oscar-winning "The Hurt Locker" and last week's Matt Damon vehicle, "Green Zone." Down in the trenches of populist filmmaking - horror, action, pulp - there is evident anger over another hot topic: health care.

"Repo Men," like last year's "Saw VI," has great fun demonizing the health-care industry and contrasting its cold pragmatism with warm gore. The time is the near future, and a company called The Union is selling artificial organs to folks who can't afford them (a nod, for good measure, to the subprime mortgage meltdown). Deadbeats beware: Union contractor Remy (Jude Law) will take that organ back on the spot, and without anesthesia.

The premise isn't new; an oddball horror-musical called "Repo! The Genetic Opera" came out two years ago. Still, "Repo Men" is better and smarter than you might expect.

That's partly because of the top-notch cast. Against all odds, Law makes Remy an empathetic anti-hero, while Forest Whitaker nearly steals the movie as his faithful repo partner. Liev Schreiber sneers it up beautifully as a heartless Union bigwig; Alice Braga breathes a little life into a token role.

First-time director Miguel Sapochnik directs with borrowed panache - you'll catch glimmers of "Blade Runner," "Total Recall," David Cronenberg's "Crash" and even Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" in this slightly overlong film. All in all, it's a darkly bloody good time, and a vicarious way to take a hacksaw to your HMO.

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