Did you enjoy Blade Runner? What about Oldboy, did you like that one?

If you said "yes" to either or both of those questions, then you are exactly the kind of person who is both the target audience for Repo Men, and exactly the kind of person who is going to be most turned-off by director Miguel Sapochnik's immensely feeble attempt at a science-fiction action epic. For as desperately as the film apes Blade Runner's iconic design (join the club), and tarts itself up with bloody combat scenes that owe a hell of a lot to the Asian Extreme style made popular in the mid-'00s (it also cribs its third act in both very specific story details and the way they are presented visually from another iconic film, but even to name it would be to spoil the present subject's ending), Repo Men never manages to be anything but a wan, watery knock-off of infinitely better movies. And that's when it's trying to be a knock-off. For the most part, it's not even that interesting: just another chase movie with technological gewgaws that can't nearly disguise that nothing the characters do, say, or think is remotely interesting.

Somewhere in time, and it doesn't appear to be all that far in the future, the whole world seems to be in the control of a single corporation. And not a weapons manufacturer, or some other kind of industrial conglomerate: The Union is a medical supplier. So not only do we have on our hands one of those keenly irritating "corporate nation-state" stories that only rarely work, it's one where that nation-state is GlaxoSmithKline. Which, okay, now that I type it out, isn't as silly as it seemed in my head. But still, here's the central premise: The Union makes absolutely flawless replacement livers, hearts, lungs, et cetera - the trade name is "artiforg", absolutely the ugliest portmanteau word you could make out of "artificial organ" - and it charges exorbitant fees for them, though apparently not at much of a profit. Where The Union makes its money is in charging senselessly usurious rates, and woe betide the poor soul who can't make a payment; you fall 96 days delinquent, and the company will send their repo men after you, to take their property back. If the client happens to die in the process, well, that's the waiver they all signed at the start.

The best repo is a gent named Remy (Jude Law), who works alongside his boyhood friend Jake (Forest Whitaker); the implication is that they were both a bit thuggish in youth, though Remy has the unexpressed soul of a poet. Things are great, and Remy has the eye of Frank (Liev Schreiber) - I don't know what Frank does; he seems to be The Union's CEO, but then why does he spend time as a salesman, and if he's a salesman, why does he also seem to be the repo men's chief? Frank mostly just stands around smirking, because he is played by Liev Schreiber, and stopping the plot short every now and then to look at the audience and remark, "by the way, the medical industry is made of howling liquid evil" - until a repossession accident shorts out Remy's heart. Now he has an arctifrog that he can't pay for, and a newfound inability to cut the life out of people who, as he now realises, have families that love them. So he goes on the lam, meeting up with a certain fugitive named Beth (Alice Braga), who is as much as 400+ days in arrears, with a body made up almost entirely of arftirfogs, and he concocts a plot to destroy The Union's callous financial records. And of course he falls in love with Beth, despite it making absolutely not a goddamn shred of sense that he should do so. This is a movie, and movies have sex scenes, and that's just how it goes.

(Despite the marked similarities to the 2008 cult hit Repo! The Genetic Opera, the two are totally unrelated; Repo Men was written by Eric Garcia & Garrett Lerner from a novel Garcia started years ago, published in 2009).

Doubtlessly, the filmmakers and the studios have spent the last several days - okay, maybe several days last week - tapping their fingers in glee at their outstanding good luck: to have opened their broadside assault against the capricious business practices of the medical industry in the very same week that health care reform is the topic in the news! Well, that sure as hell didn't work out for them: at the exact time that the country was starting to really sort out the bloody mess of who is supposed to pay for what, along comes this lumbering train wreck that seems to think that it's making a bold stance about corporate greed (against), when really all it has the brains for is to keep being distracted by shots of human rib cages being stretched open, and ghastly, endless scenes of Law furrowing his brow and shooting a snazzy futuristic taser pistol. This is meant to be bad-ass, but it happens about 9000 times in the first thirty minutes, and there are only so many ways that you can film Law striking a pose, and tragically, Sapochnik only uses two of them.

Stupid entertainment has its place, but it needs to be entertaining: Repo Men is just stupid, largely because the action is so freaking repetitive. If by some amazing chance you haven't seen any of the films exactly like this, you will nonetheless understand the feeling, because by the end, Repo Men is just devouring its own tail and regurgitating its own ideas. Armed with virtually no ideas for how to effectively stage action, the film feels like 111 minute of watching water circle in a clogged sink.

As with most Blade Runner copycats, the best parts are the tiny snatches of detail: an early news report that helpfully notes of Nigeria, "That's in Africa!", or a gleaming billboard for The Fast and the Furious 10, brief little moments where we actually get a sense of how this world is meant to function. But these Easter eggs are always quickly swallowed up by Remy and Jake, running around and fighting shit. If you squint and wish and clap three times for fairies, you can probably see the version of this movie that's a good deal of gaudy fun. But that would require an actual talented director, who knew how to breath life into the material. Instead, Repo Men is just one horrible stretch of the most soporific "action" sequences that have crapped their way onto U.S. theaters in months.