{2jtab: Movie Review}

Repo Man Criterion Collection - Blu-ray Review


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5 stars

Writer/director Alex Cox (Sid and Nancy, Straight to Hell) gets the deluxe treatment with Criterion’s release of the now-classic Repo Man.  The film – as absurd as it is – has its own cult legacy that will have its followers (and newcomers, I imagine) knocking over aisles and crashing servers just to get their shaking and sweating hands on a copy.  Who can blame them?  Repo Man and its punk rock soundtrack is classic celluloid anarchy, after all.

If Cox is a film buff’s director, then Repo Man is a film buff’s movie.  This is reference piece; Bowie’s Sound and Vision realized.  Hypotheticals aside, Repo Man and its foul-mouthed zingers provides an alternative to Ronald Reagan’s America.  With a trashy in-your-face attitude and far-reaching repossession as a motif, Repo Man is thunderously savage and dark.  It is also hilarious.  Released by Universal and executively produced by Timerider’s Michael Nesmith (from The Monkees), Cox’s film is a complete outsider to the mainstream streets of the 80s.  Repo Man walks streets of fire and carries with it an independent shot-from-the-hip vibe that manages to unload every single one of its sub-culture clips.

An alienated young L.A. punk called Otto (Emilio Estevez) – because he’s got nothing else to truly live for – decides on an exciting and unpredictable life as a repo man.  Partnered up with Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), Otto learns the ropes and learns the blow, the beatings, and the wackiness that comes with the job.  The repo crew – Tracey Walter (Bob the Goon from Burton’s Batman) is a stand-out here - are equally tweaked out.  When a girl named Leila (Olivia Barash) tells him that a 1964 Chevrolet Malibu from New Mexico contains four dead - but still dangerous - space-aliens in its trunk, Otto doesn't waste much time in pursuit of the reward of $20,000 offered for the recovery of the Malibu.

And, yet, Repo Man isn’t really concerned with plotting in any traditional sense.  If that was the case, the Chevy Malibu would be the main thrust of the picture.  It isn’t.  Composed of vignettes and brief stops (for Chinese) along the way, Repo Man thrusts us into the very heart of punk.  This is exploitation cinema and the subplot – the one concerning the aliens in the trunk – is the only real plot to speak of.  You won’t mind.  Legally sanctioned car thieves and the can of worms they open up – the America of the 80s where the only thing that matters is payments made on time – is politically engaging, poignant, and a wakeful reminder of what once was and – to a lesser degree – still threatens America.

Cinematographer Robby Müller is engaging with his lens and provides a level of urban melancholia to the post-modern madness he captures on the punk-infested streets of Los Angeles.  Vacant lots haven’t looked this tasteful or this uncomfortable.  It’s a ragged weariness he coolly provides to Cox’s angst-ridden script.

Cox isn’t a genius director who pulls great performances from his actors (and his best work remains in the past).  The only worthy performance here is Staton as the weary cynic.  Cox; however, layers the picture with cultural context and an irrationality that his intelligence behind the camera matches.  The witty punk is seldome seen in Hollywood.  The unquestionable strength of the picture comes from the offbeat observations and absurdities its presents to the audience.  It might be unconventional.  Hell, it might even be crass.  Repo Man doesn’t care.

Satire is the gun.  Charisma is the ammo.  Cox readies, aims, and fires Repo Man in a wildly entertaining feature length debut that, nearly thirty years later, is still dead on target.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Repo Man Criterion Collection - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 92 mins
: Alex Cox
: Alex Cox
Emilio Estevez; Harry Dean Stanton; Travey Walter; Tom Finnegan
: Comedy | Sci-Fi
A repo man is always intense... but only a fool gets killed for a car.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You say our names, we're going to have to kill all these people, Archie."
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: March 2, 1984
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 16, 2013

Synopsis: Young punk Otto becomes a repo man after helping to steal a car, and stumbles into a world of wackiness as a result.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Repo Man Criterion Collection - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

5 Stars

Blu-ray Experience
5 Stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - April 13, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English: LPCM Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: Locked to region A

Previous editions of Repo Man haven't always been of the best quality.  That is easily not the case here.  This is premium stuff.  The movie lives up to Criterion's claims of having hand cleaned an original negative of the film prior to digitally to cleaning it up digitally in order to give viewers the highest quality images possible. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Alex Cox's Repo Man arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.  The colors are bolder.  The print is a little darker, too.  There are some minor inconsistencies in some of the shots.  Nothing serious, though.  The picture hasn’t looked this good in decades.  Not only does it look great played through a home theatre system, it sounds great as well. The balance between soundtrack and dialogue is perfect as everything comes through crystal clear through a 5.1 surround sound system.  Turn Iggy Pop up!



  • Recorded in 1999, the commentary features director Alex Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas, and actors Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss, and Del Zamora as they all discuss the making and mayhem of the film.

Special Features:

The two-disc package the folks at Criterion have put together for this release is much better than the usual special features accompanying films these days. Along with the newly remastered version of the film, there are new interviews with cast members, filmmakers, and Iggy Pop talking about their memories of working on the soundtrack of the film. Also included is the hilariously dubbed TV Version of the film with deleted footage and new censored lines.  The real treat with Criterion’s release is a massive art-punk inspired booklet included with the set. Put together like the underground 1080s comics, it is filled with anecdotes about the making of the movie, includes some comic pages from the actual comic and dishes information about the actors and the musicians.

  • The TV Version (97 min)
  • Plate O' Shrimp (20 min)
  • The Missing Scenes (26 min)
  • Iggy Pop Interview (12 min)
  • Harry Zen Stanton (22 min)
  • Repossessed (26 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}