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Miguel Sapochnik on Repo Men

Published March 22, 2010 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Universal Pictures
Repo Men Poster Repo Men
This weekend’s sci-fi thriller Repo Men hits close to home as the Democrats try to pass their health care reform. In the movie, a corporation sells expensive replacement organs to patients on payment plans. When they miss payments, they send the repo men to take the parts back.

Miguel Sapochnik Directs Repo Men

“The great thing about science fiction is that you can make social comment without hitting people over the head with it,” said director Miguel Sapochnik. “So you can say whatever you want about it. The problem is if you start to preach then nobody listens. So we specifically set out to do something where the subtext or the social comment was inherent within the idea of the story. This is a story that I got involved in this six or seven years ago. It was not a topical subject. Then as each year has passed, it’s become more and more topical. Last year when we finished the film, I thought to myself, ‘My God, it’s all going to be over by next year. No one’s going to be interested in health care reform.’ Actually, I couldn’t be more wrong.”

It’s more than just “health care is expensive” or that “bad loan” thing. Repo Men might also be telling us to stop thinking of medicine or technology as the infinite band-aid. “This is only personally my point of view. I think that people have a tendency to treat their bodies like machines and they’ve got this idea that we kind of last inevitably, indefinitely. Actually, if you abuse your body, it does tend to break down. That’s the analogy of them having artificial organs rather than using artificially grown organs or through cloning, stem cell, which is really the way the future’s going to go. Instead of doing that, we used kind of chrome fitted, retro fitted fancy looking organs that remind you of car spare parts. That was the notion behind it.”

The Repo Men actually justify taking organs out of living deadbeats, because they consider themselves superior. Although, it’s easy to feel that way when you’re played by the perfect specimen Jude Law. “The whole idea was that the repo men tend to look down on people who have artificial organs. That’s part of Remy’s resistance when he first gets the heart is this idea that they don’t do that kind of thing. He doesn’t smoke, he looks after his body so the idea that people need that kind of thing makes them a lesser human in his mind. So I think the repo men are particularly discriminatory towards the guys that they repo.”

Repo Men is full of shoot outs, chases and hand to hand fights. At least that’s what the trailers make it look like. Sapochnik would have preferred to sell the intellectual merits.

“The one thing I would say, it’s not really an action movie. They’re selling it as an action movie. It’s not really an action movie. It’s how they kind of sell most movies. <B>Shutter Island</B> is a good example. That’s the first psychological thriller that didn’t turn into an action movie I’ve seen in years. That’s just the way. It’s the lowest common denominator. We’ll get the bums [in seats]. We’ll get people to come in and see our movie if we make it full of action. For us, it was never an action movie. We actually had to bump up the action while we were shooting. It’s action-packed, but that comes really from the fact that people get engaged in the characters.”

Sapochnik said there are about five juicy set pieces, so that holds Repo Men up with its genre brethren. “Action is inherently kind of boring unless it comes from the characters. If you look at Hero, Hero has amazing action sequences but that’s because it really seems to relate specifically to the characters themselves. <B>Bourne</B> as well, the action sequences are impressive because they emerge from the character. You understand more about the character through that experience. G.I. Joe? You tell me.”

Repo Men is out in theaters.

For the trailers, posters and more movie info, go to the Repo Men Movie Page.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Universal Pictures

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