MOVIE REVIEWS

Repo Man

7/10 R 01 hr 35 min

March 2, 1984

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It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes.

Repo Man has become one of those films where even though it was savaged by many critics of the time (not Ebert, he loved it), was met with very poor box office as well, but now everyone seems to shout that they loved it back then, always have! It is the very definition of a "cult movie", a pic that went underground and found its audience, so much so it burst back above ground and today is still being discovered by an ever intrigued movie loving audience.

Repo Man was one of a kind, a film that refused to be pigeon holed, a true original. Story for what it's worth has Emilio Estevez as L.A. punk Otto Maddox who gets bluffed into a repo man job. Taken under the wing of Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), Otto gets to become a fully fledged repo man, taking on all the perks and dangers that come with the territory. But when a mysterious 1964 Chevy Malibu arrives on the patch, all bets seem to be off because everyone is either after it or being disintegrated by it!

The life of a repo man is always intense.

OK! Where to start? Offbeat, eccentric, punk, funky, funny, smart? Repo Man is all those things, it dares to be bold and challenging, its satirical edges slicing away at film genres and American societies. Director Alex Cox (how wonderful that such an American film is directed by a British guy) fills out this scuzzy part of L.A. with hippies, freaks, punks, aliens, scientist nutters, UFO nutters, effeminate coppers and the repo men themselves, a bunch of grizzled souls hardened by life's travails, but always with a quip, a smile and a gunshot at the ready.

The dialogue fizzes with cheeky derring-do, some lines even today still quotable and used in pubs and clubs across the continents. Robby Muller's cinematography has snap crackle and pop, as does the rocking soundtrack as Cox invites the likes of Iggy Pop, The Circle Jerks, Black Flag and The Plugz into his weird and wonderful world. Performances are bang on the dollar, Stanton the class act, Estevez superb, Tracey Walter proving what his fans already knew, that he's a legendary character actor.

From an opening involving a pair of smoking boots, to the glowing sci-fi nirvana finale, Repo Man kicks ass. One viewing is never enough, and for sure there are those who have seen it once and hate it to the point of refusing to ever watch it again. That's a shame, because repeat viewings are essential, because the more you watch the more Cox's deliriously cheeky movie makes sense. 9/10

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