Tag Archives: Alex Cox

Repo Man (1984) 5/5 (1)


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Rating: The Good – 91.4
Genre: Science Fiction
Duration: 92 mins
Director: Alex Cox
Stars: Harry Dean Stanton, Emilio Estevez, Tracey Walter

Alex Cox’s cult classic captures all the anarchy of the punk generation with the perfectly apt metaphor of a punk repo man. To explain the story would be impossible but also redundant as this film is an exercise in rebellion and counter-culture from the first scene to the backwards rolling credits. Emilo Estevez is excellent in the lead in what must be his best performance. A mixture of attitude and apathy, he’s the perfect counter-point to generations of hero archetypes. Naturally, the legendary Harry Dean Stanton steals every scene he’s involved with as the live by the code/die by the code repo man. It’s a performance of iconic stature and one that endeared himself to nearly every kid who grew up on this film. In truth, there’s not a single cast member who is not perfectly in tune with the spirit of the project and it’s that factor above all else which allows Repo Man to work as well as it does.

Alex Cox puts in the shift of his career by breathing a kind of structured life into the free-form chaos that is the plot and telling a cracking science fiction tale in the process. Eschewing the narrative conventions of story telling is easier said than done because, by their nature, conventions implicitly creep into our framing of everything. However, Cox manages to do just that by creating a film that glides forward under its own brisk momentum employing a series of dream like cuts between camera angles and scenes alike. The score and dialogue are as surreal as the visuals yet it all seems to make sense on an implicit level. The soundtrack is straight out of punk heaven as Black Flag, Fear, Circle Jerks, and of course Iggy Pop balance out Steven Hufsteter and Tito Larriva’s serene score in rousing fashion. However, the crowning action in Repo Man comes as Cox borrows from the 1955 noir classic Kiss Me Deadly (and pre-dating Pulp Fiction), turning the trunk of the Chevy Malibu into the ultimate MacGuffin by inverting the conventions of that device in a reflexive brainstorm of epic proportions.

Repo Man is one hell of a muscular statement from all concerned and we’ve yet to see another film like it even though countless filmmakers have tried. It’s a testament to independent cinema and the punk mentality alike and has rightly become the anthem film for a generation of movie fans who love to see boundaries obliterated. It’s fitting therefore, that this film ends with what must be the greatest ascension scene of them all for it couldn’t have self-reflected its own meteoric rise to the top of cult cinema better.

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