*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was written by LiliRoze.
The movie opens with Remy (Jude Law) shirtless in a broken down room typing at a typewriter, narrating a story as he types. He tells of a scientist who places a cat inside a box and then puts a poisonous capsule in the box. The scientist does not know if the capsule will activate, so he never knows if the cat will be dead when he opens the box.
The hypothesis is that because the scientist is unaware if the cat in the box is alive or dead, then the theory that the cat is both alive and dead must be true . . . Remy has been obsessing over this since he first heard the story.
Flashback. Remy is sitting in the dark in an opulent apartment, and he has a metal case with him. A man enters with a beautiful woman. The man and woman embrace, unaware Remy is there. When the man notices him, Remy says he is from the Union. The man says he is going to pay. Remy says payment isn’t his department, and he hits the man with a stun dart. He lays the man down and opens his case, and removes some instruments along with a pink page of a form. He reads the man’s name from the form and says, “I have the legal obligation to ask you if you wish to have an ambulance on standby.” Since the man is unconscious, Remy simply smirks at him.
The woman then hits Remy on the head and he eventually stuns her so he can work in peace. Putting on a pair of headphones that play a swinging bluesy tune (think Sinatra’s “The Best is Yet to Come”), Remy takes out a scalpel and cuts into the man’s body. After quite a bit of skillful digging, pulling and tugging he removes a metal object from the man’s body.
He walks to the sink, rinses it off, vacuum seals it in a bag and tucks it away.
Through Remy’s narration we learn this is his job. In this future world, people purchase artificial organs from a company called The Union instead of waiting on transplant lists. When they are 96 days past due, Remy is one of many repo men who work for the Union who go in and reclaim the organs, just like a repossessed car or foreclosed home.
He travels throughout the city in the night, finding the targets on his pink sheets.
He returns to the office at the end of the night, walking into a storage room to turn in his collection of “Artiforgs.” His boss Frank (Liev Schreiber) is there and as Remy turns over the plastic-sealed organs, Frank scans the bar code on them into the computer system. Frank learns the Remy has confiscated all livers this night and Frank asks if he has been hanging out at AA meetings.
A man comes in behind Remy and grabs him around the neck, holding a stun gun to his throat. The man is Jake (Forest Whitaker) who then stuns Remy. When Remy recovers the two of them begin pushing each other around, with Remy eventually stunning him back. During the scuffle, Remy narrates some more, telling us the through a flashback that Jake and he have known each other since 4th grade, when Jake was a bully and Remy was a poetic sensitive kid (until he earned Jake’s respect by beating him up) and they have been friends ever since.
Frank the boss tolerates them as they continue to joke and fight together, collecting Jake’s Artiforgs as well, telling Jake he needs to be careful, because a few of his bar codes are unreadable and need to be manually entered into the system. It is obvious the two men are the best repo men in the business. Frank complains that a few people have paid off their Artiforgs, which annoys him because the Union makes more money when the organs are repossessed and resold.
In the breakroom, Jake meets a fellow repo man Ray (Joe Pingue). Ray is not only envious of Remy’s work, but also tired of repossessing ears. Remy and he have a casual chat.
The next day begins with Remy waking up at home to a news radio report about the ongoing war . . . his wife Carol (Carice van Houten) is still in bed. Remy takes a shower then joins his son Peter (Chandler Canterbury) in the kitchen for breakfast. Carole asks Remy to drop Peter off at school. Carole reminds Remy to ask his boss about a sales job.
At work, Remy enters into the front door of The Union, only to run into a person dressed in a colorful lung costume, dancing around encouraging customers. Remy narrates what he sees as Frank gives his sales pitch to a thin, sickly looking man in need of a pancreas. Frank considers that it is barbaric to be on a transplant list waiting for someone to die. Instead he tells the man he owes it to his family (who is sadly gathered around him) to purchase the pancreas for a mere $675,492.00 The Union will be happy to set up a payment plan at 19.99% interest.
As Remy predicts, the man signs. They always sign.
Frank chastises Remy for coming in the front door as Remy prepares to go to work for the day. Frank doesn’t want the customers thinking about repossession. It’s bad for business.
That night at dinner Carole asks Remy if he has spoken to his boss about the sales job. Remy makes an excuse that he didn’t have time, and Carole doesn’t buy it.
That weekend, there is a barbeque at Remy’s house and Jake and many other repo men from work are there. Jake tells Remy there is a quick “2-minute job” on its way there in a cab, and offers to split the commission with him if Remy will cover for him while he does it. Remy nervously looks to Carole and warns Jake that he better only take 2 minutes.
Carole gets suspicious as Jake leaves the backyard through the house. Remy makes an excuse. Cut to a man in a cab. He is telling the cab driver to hurry, he is obviously nervous. The cab pulls up in front of the house and Jake is waiting with a knife. Using a hand-held scanner, Jake first scans the man’s body and learns that one of his kidneys is indeed overdue on the payments. Jake makes a bloody mess in the back of the cab as he stuns the man and cuts out his kidney.
Carole is still suspicious and goes through the house, with Remy following. They see Jake in the cab, stuffing the kidney in his pocket. He tries to make light of the situation by telling Carole that it is only a kidney, and the man will live because he has another.
Carole puts Peter into the family car and drives off, telling Remy he must make a decision.
That night, Jake and Remy go out together and use their hand-held scanners on various people as they drive through the city. They clearly get a rush from their work, and call out to a man who is 94 days past due on a pancreas that they will see him in 2 days. The man yells that he’s mailed the payment and runs off.
They stop at a bar to talk shop. Remy sees a beautiful woman singing in the bar (Alice Braga, “Beth”) and seems to become maudlin over her as she sings, “Cry Me a River.” Jake can’t take it and says he’s going to go off and start a fight. Soon enough they are back in the car driving around.
As they chat, they hear a radio ad for the new M5 neural net. Jakes describes it as the Union’s newest item the “cure” for brain damage. The neural net puts the patient into a dream-stage fantasy world. Remy wonders aloud how it could be repossessed.
Approaching a ship at an abandoned shipyard, they point their scanners at it and the scanners go crazy with overdue notices. They have found a “nest.”
Donning flaks jackets, stun guns and their metal cases, Jake and Remy enter and make a friendly bet on who will get the most Artiforgs. Then the chaos begins.
Hundreds of people are running everywhere, with Jake and Remy tagging as many as they can with their stun darts, watching them fall. Later, they go back to the office and turn in their collections, and Frank is very pleased. Frank offers them a job doing this “freelance” repo work at 3 times the regular commission.
Remy, clearly feeling the pressure of his wife’s ultimatum, starts to nervously ask about the sales job, but you can tell he doesn’t really want to. Jake flubs over Remy by saying they will continue to take the regular pink slips from Frank as usual.
Remy drives Jake home, all the while Jake is trying to get Remy to snap out of it and concentrate on the job. As a last resort, he reminds Remy that there is a “big fish” to collect the heart of a famous musician named T-Bone (RMZ) of whom Remy is a huge fan. Remy decides to take it on his own and Jakes leaves the car.
Remy enters the house and T-Bone is there at the sound board mixing a bluesy song, using a cocaine-like drug that is a red powder he rubs along his gums. T-Bone asks if Remy’s from the IRS, because they have taken everything (clearly not the crystal chandelier in the foyer). The two men have an odd exchange over why Remy is there (to take T-Bone’s heart), and T-Bone is resigned to his fate. He lies down on the floor as Remy unpacks his equipment. Remy prepares a defibulator that will stop T-Bone’s heart so he can remove it without being hurt.
When Remy shocks T-Bone, the defibulator short circuits and sends Remy flying across the room. He wakes up to Frank and Jake leaning over him in the hospital, where he learns that he has the opportunity for a new Artiforg heart. It hasn’t been installed yet until he signs the papers, which reluctantly he does.
After his recovery, he drives to his home to learn Carole has changed the locks, telling him that he made his decision about them when he decided to go after another repossession. Remy moves in with Jake, who is clearly eager for them both to get back to the way things used to be.
Remy goes to work and enters the home of his first pink slip since his surgery, only to learn that he can’t do it. He meets Jake after work at the bar, and Remy pretends he has turned in the organ.
Later, Jake learns that Remy didn’t do the job, and has in fact been unable to do any job since the accident. Through the next few scenes, we learn that Remy is falling behind on the payments because he can’t work. He tries Sales, and is clearly a failure at it (he tells the customers that if they can’t pay, someone will break into their home in the middle of the night and rip them back out of their bodies).
Jake takes him out for a drive and tries to pep talk him through this. He truly believes that Remy just needs to get back on the horse, so to speak. Jake takes Remy to a known nest and stuns a person for him, and tells Remy that he needs to stay there and pull as many organs as he needs to in order to get his head straight.
Jake leaves and Remy ponders what he will do. Suddenly he hears someone singing, “Cry Me a River.” Approaching a drugged-out young lady he discovers it is Beth, the singer from the bar. Remy takes her to a hotel room and stays with her to help her withdraw from the drugs.
When she awakens days later, she and Remy begin to get to know each other. Remy learns that she has 11 Artiforgs, a few of which have been repaired on the black market. Diabetes, a car accident and some other bad luck simply left her with various needs for organs, including artificial eyes and eardrums.
In the meantime, Remy has gone past due, and Frank purposefully gives Jake the pink slip on Remy, and Jake refuses it. All the repo men do.
Remy breaks into the warehouse where the repo men return their collected organs and pulls out returned organs that match Beth’s. He scratches off the bar code and then scans it, and the computer prompts him to enter manually. He enters Beth information. Before he can finish all 11 of her organs, Jake catches him and they have a brief talk, where Jake asks Remy to simply return to the job. Remy can’t.
Remy returns to the hotel and tells Beth that he was unsuccessful, and that he had entered her organs before his own heart, so they are both still on the run. They are in love by now and Remy doesn’t want to give up.
Beth takes Remy to an abandoned apartment complex and they hide out. There she trash picks some clothes and supplies for them, including a typewriter. She gives Remy the typewriter and encourages him to write anything he wants.
Ray (the “ear” repo man from earlier) shows up at the complex to repossess Remy. After a fight, Remy and Beth escape after killing Ray, but Beth has injured her Artiforg knee and needs a repair.
The next day they make a plan to get out of the country and go somewhere where The Union can’t find them. Beth reminds him they can’t get on a plane with past-due organs (everyone is scanned). Remy breaks into The Union office and holds a gun at Frank and tells him to take himself and Beth out of the system. Frank says he can’t, because since Remy broke in to the warehouse and pulled his scam on the barcodes, now all Artiforgs have to be taken directly to the headquarters to be processed. The headquarters is known as “The Pink Door,” a supposed chamber where all repossessed organs are returned to stock to be catalogued and used again. This is the mainframe computer system.
Remy stuns Frank and steals two “scramblers” that will prevent their organs from being detected by the machines at the airport. After a tense scene at the airport, they make it through security, but Beth’s knee is bleeding badly and they are stopped by an employee who wants to bandage it before they board. This gives enough time for Jake and security to catch up with them and although Jake stares Remy down, he allows Remy to run with Beth in his arms.
Beth takes Remy to a black market woman who performs surgery on her knee. There is a nest there as well, and it is raided by repo men. Remy and Beth make it to a safe room with about a hundred other people.
After the dust has cleared, Remy goes out of the room and sees all the dead bodies of the people who were tagged and gutted, including the woman who performed the surgery on Beth. He vows to Beth that it is time to end it.
Before they can get out, Jake appears and he asks Remy one more time to simply come with him. Remy says he can’t, not since the accident. Jake gets disgusted and confesses that the defibulator malfunction was no accident. Jake wired it to malfunction so that Remy would have to get a new heart, thereby making Remy a prisoner of his job he would have to keep working as a repo man in order to make the payments, and wouldn’t be able to step down to Sales as his wife wanted him to. Remy is incredulous and starts to fight Jake. After a long fight, Jake knocks Remy unconscious when Jake hits him with a giant iron hook.
Remy regains consciousness to see Beth standing over him, and sees Jake’s unconscious body next to his. He smiles at Beth. They are more determined than ever to make it now. Remy says the only way out is to get to the Pink Door and remove themselves from the system.
Beth and Remy get on a subway and meet Carole and Peter, because Remy wants to say goodbye to his son. Remy tells him he loves him and hands him the typed pages he had been working on at the beginning of the movie, and tells Peter that when he is old enough, he can read the manuscript and decide if he still loves his father. In case he does, Remy tells Peter the name of the tropical island where they will be living.
Cut to Frank, who is leaving the office for the evening, only to find Remy and Beth in the backseat of his car, and they stun him. Traveling to the main headquarters, they enter a room where everyone is building thousands of Artiforgs. At the other end of the room is the hallway that leads to the Pink Door.
After a long, drawn out, bloody, slow motion, 2-against the world fight, Remy and Beth finally make it into the Pink Door. Jake has also arrived with Frank behind him. While Remy and Beth lock themselves in the mainframe room behind the Pink Door, Jake is looking for a way to get in.
The mainframe room is nothing but a large white room with handheld scanners and a table. Remy figures out that they will need to scan their own organs in order to get them into the mainframe system (there is no keyboard).
During a gross scene, they give Remy some of the red-powdered drug and place a precision cut in Remy’s body and as he cried in pain, Beth reaches the scanner into him and tries to reach his heart so the scanner will read the bar code on it. After much effort and pain, she finally succeeds and the computer announces that Remy’s account is satisfied.
Beth then realizes they will need to scan all 11 of her Artiforgs. Remy starts with her eyes, ears, and injured knee. Meanwhile, Jake finds an Artiforg among the dead bodies out in the hallway and scans it to allow entry into the Pink Door.
He finds Remy trying desperately to reach Beth’s final remaining organ. Frank and Jake watch in awe as Remy finally reaches deeply enough to get the final scan. In disgust, Frank tells Remy to give up and come back to work, because there is no way he is getting out of the room alive. Jake kills Frank with a swift knife to the throat. Jake then gives Remy adrenaline to inject in the dying Beth’s heart, saving her.
Cut to Remy and Beth on a beautiful tropical island, happy. Jake appears as well, and picks up a book from the table. It is called “The Repossession Mambo,” written by Remy. He explains to Jake that Peter got the manuscript published.
As the camera pans back from the scene, the screen flickers, and you hear Jake’s voice asking what is wrong. A woman announces that there has been a minor glitch, nothing to worry about.
The next scene is Jake standing over Remy’s body, back at the scene of the fight when Remy was knocked unconscious. There are multiple probes sticking out of Remy’s skull, and his eyes are open and staring. Jake asks if Remy is okay, and the woman answers that he’s fine, that the brain damage caused when Jake hit him with the iron hook is exactly the thing the new M5 neural net is made for. It will keep Remy in a blissful state as long as he is hooked up to it. Jake then tells the woman that he has 50 commissions (from the repossessions at the nest) and that will pay off Remy’s heart and take care of the down payment on the M5. The woman reminds Jake that as long as the neural net is paid for, Remy will be blissful. One of the other workers announces that he has found someone still breathing. It is Beth. Jake announces that he will take care of her.
Cut to a commercial of Frank advertising the new M5 neural net as an alternative to letting a loved one suffer through the horrors of severe brain damage.