Friday, December 16, 2011
Repo Men -- employment, identity and medical responsibility
Director: Miguel Sapochnik, 2010. (R)
“My job is simple. Can't pay for the car, the bank takes it back. Can’t pay for your house, the bank takes it back. Can’t pay for your liver, well that’s where I come in.” Remy (Jude Law, Sherlock Holmes), the protagonist, narrates this voice-over at the start of the film. He is one of the repo men.
Set in a bleak future where technology has produced numerous artiforgs, artificial organs to replace those in the body that are worn out or damaged. But control and sale of these artiforgs belongs to a company known only as “The Union” that seems to be above the law. The sale of organs to needy recipients is smooth and sleek, orchestrated by the morally defunct Frank (Live Schreiber, The Manchurian Candidate). But when the payments stop because the recipient can no longer afford it, they are given only a 90-day grace period before the repo men are sent to retrieve the artiforg, regardless of cost to the current user.
The opening scene sets the tone, as we see Remy repossess a liver from an unhappy man. Gory and shocking, Remy dons gloves and his iPod to jam out while he jimmies out the liver, leaving the unconscious man to twitch and die on the floor. Life has its price, and this man could not make the payment.
One of the themes revolves around the job. Remy’s partner Jake (Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland) quips repeatedly, “A job is a job.” But later, after Remy’s eyes are opened, he understands more and comments, “At the end, a job is not just a job, it is who you are, and if you wanna change who you are, you have to change what you do.”
Repo Men posits, therefore, that identity is wrapped up in employment. You are what you do. Is this true? Does our job define us? We often describe ourselves by our jobs. When asked, “Who are you?” we respond with, “I am a doctor” or an engineer or manager or whatever. But identity is never defined in this way in the Bible. We are so much more than what we do. Our job will likely change over time, through our careers, but we remain the same person. If our job defined us, then we would be lacking if we were laid off or fired, as Remy finds out.
We are defined instead by our nature and by our relationships. Humans are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), uniquely endowed with the immaterial element of soul/spirit that forms personality. And our identity is further refined by our relationships, with each other and with God. Our foremost and most vital relationship is with God through Jesus Christ. When we discover this through faith, we find we are brought into his wonderful family, becoming children of God (Jn. 1:12).
Frank spells out the financial balance sheet to Remy and Jake. The Union does not want to sell artiforgs to people who can pay outright. Rather, they want to sell to those who can only barely afford them, paying the 20% interest and then repossessing when they default on the payments. In that case, they can reuse or resell these organs to new Johns and make more money. They are loan sharks of a sort, preying on the helpless.
at 7:00 AM