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Repo Man

A cult movie from 1984

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The life of a repo man is always intense. Ain't that the truth.

  • Aug 27, 2012
***1/2 out of ****

"The life of a repo man is always intense" says Harry Dean Stanton as Bud in one of the most prolific scenes from the Alex Cox cult favorite "Repo Man". The film, which is not really about Bud but more-so about the life and career of a kid that he brings into the trade of repossessing stolen cars, jumps from one whacky idea to another; eventually bordering on perplexing. It remains complicated and intriguing throughout yet never really gains our trust until the end, where you either surrender to the fact that a lot of it is just inexplicably weird and the other half or so is perhaps stranger than fiction, or you throw in the towel and feel as if you've wasted time.

The kid is Otto Maddox (Emilio Estevez), a young man caught in the punk rock scene of Los Angeles who is cheated on by his girlfriend, fired from his job at the local supermarket, and is then told that the money his pot-smoking parents had saved for him after he finished school has been donated by them to a Christian television cause. Otto is walking the streets, broke and alone, one day when he meets Bud; who makes up a dirty lie while on the job so that Otto will assist him in his work. Bud is impressed by the assistance that Otto gives him, and even brings him back to the head office to offer him a job as a repo man, and although Otto is at first disgusted by the concept of the job, he takes it out of desperation.

For a while, Otto embraces this new lifestyle; it's full of drugs, good music, good cars, and good people. What more could a working man want? One day, Otto is driving along - of course, looking for vehicles to repossess - when he spots a pretty girl named Leila (Olivia Barash), who tells him of a top secret government alien conspiracy that she thinks she may have uncovered. How, we don't know. But what we do know is that the corpses of the extraterrestrials, if existent, rest in the back of a Chevy driven by a mad scientist with one eye. Mexican repo men face off against the Americans in a race against time; who will get to the Chevy first?

It's hard to tell whether the film takes place in the future or not. If so, then it's merely the near future; although everything looks kind of futuristic in Los Angeles, so you never really can tell. Nevertheless, "Repo Man" is an innovative blend of science fiction-thriller storytelling and conspiracy mystery. I'll admit, I'm a sucker for conspiracies - especially the ones about aliens - and the film is able to cook up a sufficient web of intrigue. It conveys its ideas mostly through images; usually very strange ones, such as a flying car with a green glow in the closing scene. These images don't leave our heads; they are memorable. But they are also the heart and soul of the film; and it's not admired by so many people for nothing.

If you want a good LA thriller with a touch of sci-fi and various other genre stylistics, this is the film for you. Alex Cox seems to be interested in bringing a whole lot of style and substance to independent filmmaking; proving that he's a lot smarter and creative than others working in his time. This is probably the one film aside from "Sid and Nancy" that people remember from the man, but that said, these two films assure that he won't be forgotten like so many others before and after him. "Repo Man" is a fun, charismatically acted, and intellectually stimulating crime thriller that almost defies classification and is plenty unique on its own right. It's pure cinema in the sense that it creates truly unforgettable images and scenarios; and it still holds up after all these years. And like all good sci-fi movies, there's some good social satire buried underneath it too; some of it more obvious than other portions. You'll laugh just about as much as you'll ask yourself just what the hell you're watching.

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More Repo Man reviews
review by . April 01, 2008
Otto sees the Malibu
Movies don't get much better than this.  This is what independent film making is all about.  Talk about a quotable movie!  "There is one in every car, you'll see."  Features a special acoustic cameo by the Circle Jerks long before "unplugged" became hip.  Also, it marks the film debut of Jennifer Balgobin.  So go eat some sushi and don't pay!    "The more you drive, the less intelligent you are."
review by . June 23, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Watching something different is part of the Repo Code.
Repo Man is...a comedy?  No wait, it's got some drama in it, so Drama?  Or is it an action/adventure style movie?  Sci Fi? Where would you find it in a rental store?  I'm guessing comedy since it's funny and has more laughs then the other three genre's I mentioned.  It's got a cult following but when it was being made, I don't think anyone knew this as it's impossible to know what will work and what won't as a cult film.  Samuel L Jackson …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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