Repo Man (1984)
By: David Michael Brown on November 10, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia). Region 4, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 1.0. English, French, Spanish Subtitles. 93 minutes
The Movie
Director: Alex Cox
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Harry Dean Stanton
Screenplay: Alex Cox
Country: USA
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"The life of a repo man is always intense!" Never has a line of dialogue so perfectly summed up a performance and a film. Harry Dean Stanton's sagely advice to Emilio Estevez's angry young punk forms the basis of another of cinema's great odd couples and forms the bedrock to Alex Cox's surreal fusion of sci-fi styling and LA street smarts.

Emilio Estevez plays Otto, a young punk out of work and out of luck. His parents have spent his miniscule inheritance and his best friend (just out of prison) is sleeping with his girlfriend. He, understandably, is not a happy young man. When he finds himself in a car repossession agency, The Helping Hand Acceptance Agency, after being tricked by Repoman Bud, played by Harry Dean, he initially angrily reacts to the situation. He soon, however, becomes one of the team learning the dirty tricks that repomen must use in their less than glamorous profession. When a 1964 Chevy Malibu driven by a lunatic government scientist, with Top Secret cargo in the trunk, becomes the repomen's Holy Grail the story takes a very strange diversion and these sci-fi elements and the Hitchcockian mcguffin in the boot give the film a strange otherworldly ambience. The strange FBI presence only adds to Cox's ambience.

The other worldy experience is enhanced by wicked little touches like all food and drink on display being called, funnily enough, food and drink. The soundtrack includes the best US punk that the 80s had to offer. Iggy Pop is joined by The Circle Jerks, Black Flag and Suicidal Tendencies all add an aural authenticity to the proceedings.

Estevez had swooned teenage hearts in Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders but was yet to hit pay dirt with The Breakfast Club and his new life as a member of the Brat Back. Stanton on the other hand and already lent his talents to thirty years of film and television work. The fusion of the old and the new works perfectly together and the duo are joined by a wonderful array of strange characters. In particular Miller, played by the wonderful Tracey Walter; his moments of surreal contemplation as he spouts his pearls of wisdom are genius, "The more you drive, the less intelligent you are, that's why I don't drive" The whole script is perfectly judged; Cox's career has given us some fantastic pieces of work like Walker, Straight to Hell and Sid & Nancy but none have managed to encapsulate Cox's obvious wit. Anyone who has seen the director's series of film introductions to the British television series Moviedrome will know what a funny guy Cox is.
The transfer is fabulous; the neon lit skylines and dark seedy streets of LA look gloriously ominous. There is some grain during the frequent night scenes but considering the budget and era in which the film was made, this is totally acceptable.
The soundtrack punches during the punk numbers but doesn't make much use of the surround channels.
Extra Features
Repoman has been given an excellent selection of extras, all of which completely enhance the viewing experience.

The ever talkative Cox is given two opportunities to wax lyrical about his film. Repossessed is a round table discussion between the director and his two producers Jonathan Wacks and Peter McCarthy. He is also joined by Executive Producer and former Monkee Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas and actors Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss and Del Zamora for a feature legth commentary. Interestingly Richardson, who joined the project very early, was originally slated to play Otto before Estevez, who does not take part in the extras, joined the project.

We also get 25 minutes of deleted scenes, unfortunately not the alternative 'Melon Farmer' filled TV version and a 21 minute interview with the legend that is Harry Dean Stanton.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Repo Man is a fantastic film that put Cox and Estevez on the map. Joyfully skewing Sci-fi and punk into a delirious mix of sex, violence, mosh pits and a Car trunk bound McGuffn that Hitchcock would have been proud of, Repo Man is a one off - a film that defies description but somehow, despite its sprawling nature, manages to be an extremely cool watch. If you've got nothing better to do, then watch Repo Man and grab a couple of brews. You will not be disappointed. 

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