Repo Man is an enigma of a film, its very creation as inexplicable as many aspects of the film itself. It is a film which never seems to choose a genre, therefore defying any perceptible trajectory in plot, and also seems to embody the spirit of punk rock music like few other films ever were capable of. The fact that the soundtrack was far more successful than the film upon original release speaks volumes, and is part of what makes this film the quintessential video-age cult classic.
UCLA film student graduate Alex Cox plummeted out of the gate with this debut feature, one which was originally meant to be an independent until Universal swooped in and backed the picture. Even more remarkable was the limited interference the studio had on the creative vision of the odd counter culture film about
Repo-men and aliens. Los Angeles
Emilio Estevez is at his very best as a middle-class punk with little regard for anything. This makes him a perfect candidate for the job of a repossession man, which he is first tricked into doing by seasoned pro Bud (Harry Dead Stanton). Otto (Estevez) goes through the familiar stages of many other comedic protagonists; he loses his job (in actuality, he quits his job), he loses his girlfriend, and he is in danger of being thrown out on his ass. The difference between Otto and most other protagonists in his shoes is this doesn’t seem to affect him at all. His attitude is superfluous to most fortune or misfortune alike.
Though there is a semi-constant storyline involving a car which contains mysterious items in the trunk which were smuggled out of the deserts of
, Repo Man is mostly a free-flowing
film about Otto’s misadventures in repossessions. He learns different methods
from different repo men. While one dresses in suits to look like a cop, another
does his best to look like a hardened criminal. The desired outcome is always
the same; to be left alone until the car has been repossessed. Nevada
Cox went on to make Sid & Nancy, yet another contribution to punk rock film history, yet Repo Man still stands as his crowning achievement in my mind. It borrows from many films. Moments remind me of early Robert Altman comedies in style and dialogue. The trunk of the car resembles the unseen treasure of Touch of Evil. There are many other familiar moments, and yet Repo Man still stands as a distinctly original film.
The director-approved Blu-ray release has a newly restored 2K digital transfer of the film, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. The disc also includes an optional commentary track with Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas, and actors Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss, and Del Zamora. The bonus features also include deleted scenes and trailers, a roundtable discussion of the film, a conversation between
and McCarthy and new interviews with
musicians Iggy Pop and Keith Morris, as well as actors Dick Rude, Olivia
Barash, and Miguel Sandoval. There is also the TV-edit version of the film,
which altered the language. All of this comes is a fantastic package with a
65-page book insert that has essays and an illustrated production history with
comics and original art that inspired the film. Stanton
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 7.5/10
Disc Features: 10/10