One has to wonder how a movie like Repo Man comes to be. Suddenly in the middle of the 80's this stinging critique of then modern culture drops into theaters with little fanfare, but it quickly made its mark and became one of the most memorable films of its genre. But the question then is -- what is the genre? We have elements of science fiction, crime story, teenage drama and political thriller all jammed into the trunk of a flick which demands attention.
The "hero" of the yarn is Otto (Emilio Estevez) , a disaffected youngster groping for some direction and meaning in a world which appears to be largely barren of such things. His parents are zombies of TV land and his friends are not that at all, but just self-serving hormone addled creatures like himself. He falls in with a veteran "Repo Man" (Harry Dean Stanton) and finds a trade which gives him some direction and some ready cash. His old friends, a trio of teenage miscreants tumble through the movie "doing crimes" of increasing intensity and all the while the entire world seems to be on the lookout for a particular Ford Malibu carrying glowing death and more in its spacious trunk.
One of the more memorable details of the movie is the celebration of the "generic", at the time a relatively new concept which allowed stores to offer goods at a discounted price forgoing fancy packaging. While generics are hardly that anymore and have become a linchpin of the economy, at this time the idea was still unusual enough that a store filled with such items lingered in the mind. As will the music which is supplied by Iggy Pop and the Circle Jerks (who actually show up in the movie).
If the movie has a message I don't really understand it, unless somehow it's that we are more than the details of our daily lives might makes us seem. That we can rise above our base concerns about money, sex, and politics and strive for something more noble. But having said that, I realize such notions are beyond this film which doesn't want to preach, but show.