May 30, 2013
The problem with Repo Man is that it never fully crystallizes. Alex Cox apparently had a lot of ideas zooming around in his brain when he wrote and directed this, his first feature, after graduating from UCLA's film school. This is exactly the kind of mishmash a film student would come up with. It has some clever ideas--there are plenty of amusing gags throughout the film that catch your ear or your eye--but a lot of unformed ones too, and the unformed ideas take over. Cox keeps cutting to different scenes with his characters and never allows for enough time to develop either the people or the situations. The minute you feel that the movie might start to gel, he cuts. And this turns out to be a real liability. Repo Man is a junkyard of a movie: all kinds of intriguing parts, loaded with meaning and cleverness, but ultimately disorganized to a fault.
Its biggest asset turns out to be its sense of humor, which has the effect of winning over the viewer. We might feel lost--and we might feel completely at the mercy of a mad director who has no idea where he's going--but at least we're enjoying the chaotic mess of a movie along the way. And Estevez is a fun lead. He's kind of a prick, going after what he wants with no scruples whatsoever: he propositions a girl as though he's asking her for a piece of gum, and he tells his parents he loves them because he's after a once-promised cash gift from his father. (He's disappointed to find that they've already sent the money to some phony televangelist.)
The supporting cast includes Tracey Walter, Olivia Barash, Sy Richardson, Susan Barnes, Fox Harris, Tom Finnegan, Del Zamora, Eddie Velez, Zander Schloss, Jennifer Balgobin, Dick Rude, Miguel Sandoval, and Vonetta McGee. 92 min. ★★½