Affleck, Aaron Eckhart, Uma Thurman
Directed by: John Woo
Produced by: John Davis, Michael Hackett, John Woo, Terrance
Written by: Dean Georgaris
Running Time: 118 minutes
(Affleck) is a reverse-engineer hired to work on a top-secret
project. Once he’s through with the project his memory
is wiped and he’s left with an envelope of personal
items that begin to help him put together the puzzle of
what happened in the three previous years and what fate
awaits him in the future. Uma Thurman plays the brilliant
scientist who helps Affleck and Aaron Eckhart plays his
longtime friend and business partner.
Paycheck is a
decent sci-fi flick, but something is lacking here. If you’re
familiar with the work of John Woo (Mission Impossible 2,
Face Off, Broken Arrow) then you won’t be surprised
by the frenetic camerawork. However, all the panning, tilting
and pulled focus makes it difficult to concentrate on the
characters and spoils the tension that is necessary to make
us worry about the characters.
Ben Affleck is
serviceable in this film, but he coasts too much on good
looks and boyish charm. There’s no complexity to his
performance and despite the fact that he’s all over
this film I’m always looking forward to seeing someone
else (like Aaron Eckhart, Paul Giamatti or Joe Morton).
I like Uma Thurman just fine, but I can see her mind working
in every scene, so I tend to just look at her bod and wait
for something to happen.
for this film is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick,
one of my favorite authors. Dick is the mind behind Blade
Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report. True to most stories
by Dick, the main character in Paycheck must struggle with
mind games and his perception of reality. The script for
this film is fairly tight, as is necessary given the complexity
of the ideas. The dialogue, however, is trite and doesn’t
help the faxed in performances of Affleck or Thurman a bit.
This film is
beautiful in it’s own way, but there’s almost
too much production design. Everything is crisp and shiny
and futuristic, like Gene Roddenberry’s wet dream.
Affleck and Eckhart are straight off the cover of GQ magazine.
This future is pretty, and that may point to the underlying
problem I mentioned earlier. There’s too much attention
placed on how everything and everyone looks and too little
attention placed on the characters or why we should care
what the fuck happens to them.
has some clever ideas and a few decent action scenes (but
nothing spectacular, particularly coming from John Woo,
who has really fallen off the horse since Hard Boiled) it
suffers from the same thing the Tin Man lacked… a
The DVD has some
extra scenes that were not in the original movie, including
a gem with Affleck and Eckhart that explains some of the
motivational elements that this film desperately needed.
There’s also a cut scene with Joe Morton that tells
you why he becomes such a sympathetic character around the
end of the flick. The decision to cut these two scenes tells
me a lot about the priorities of Woo and addresses the issue
of making this film a Tin Man. More extras include a commentary
by Woo and writer Dean Georgaris, a featurette on the films
design and another on the stunts in the film.
out of 10