Alex Cox's directorial debut was a wickedly funny and willfully bizarre story that became a major cult item once it began making the art-house rounds a year after its release (an initial run in a string of Southern grind houses and drive-ins, where it was billed as an action film, was a resounding failure). Having lost his job and his girlfriend, punk rocker Otto (Emilio Estevez) meets a guy named Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) who offers him $25 to drive his wife's car out of a "bad area." When a handful of angry people start chasing Otto, he realizes that something is up, and he discovers that Bud repossesses cars for a living. With few immediate prospects, Otto joins Bud at the repo yard and is soon "ripping" cars with the best of them. When an anonymous source posts a $20,000 reward for a missing 1964 Chevy Malibu, it turns out that what's valuable isn't the car itself, but what's in the trunk, which is very hot, glows brightly, and kills anyone who comes in contact with it. A vaguely surreal modern-noir science-fiction comedy with echoes of Kiss Me Deadly (1955), Repo Man is packed with more incongruous sight gags than anyone can absorb in one viewing; keep your eyes peeled for the air fresheners, the generic newspaper box, and the watches without hands. Harry Dean Stanton gives a superb comic performance as the intense but laid-back Bud, Emilio Estevez delivers perhaps the best work of his career as the petulant but goofy Otto, and Tracey Walter is hilarious as the spaced out repo-yard man Miller. Iggy Pop wrote and performed the theme song and The Circle Jerks appear as a lounge band.
by Mark Deming synopsis