Paycheck

Director: John Woo
Cast: Ben Affleck, Aaron Eckhart, Uma Thurman

Reviewer: Dave McKenzie

I must admit, I was really looking forward to seeing this film for a number of reasons. Philip K Dick is my favourite authors, and wrote the stories for Bladerunner, Total Recall & Minority report, some of my favourite films. So because of this, I was expecting a top notch film.

The first half-hour didn’t disappoint either.
It covered all the major points of the short story: Jennings (Ben Afleck) is a engineer specialising in taking another companies product and copying or improving upon it. At the end of every job, his memory is wiped to protect the current employers’ secrets. He agrees to take an unusually long job of three years to reverse engineer a TV-like thing and at the end of the job, instead of the massive Paycheck he was expecting, he finds he has forfeited his Paycheck for 19 items, and wants to find out why.

The film flows quite nicely from that point on, loosely following Jennings trying to find out what was previously erased from his mind using the plot devices of these 19 items. The typical John Wu action influence comes on strong, too, but probably to the detriment of the tight film plot common in a Dick story. However, the action sequences are thick and fast through, and are great if you like this sort of thing. Movie Physics aren’t the strong point of Wu, and he frequently botches the old too many bullets in the gun and cars exploding when they really shouldn’t type of scene.

I couldn’t help thinking that had a better director (like Scott or Spielberg) should have been at the helm, then we would have had a real masterpiece.

The other thing that really ticked me off is that the film didn’t give the audience any chance to be intelligent. Driving home plot points, IMHO, is not the way to make good films, and I felt patronised several times. And the fight scenes at the end were a bit pointless, and felt tacked on. Like the romantic subplot. Oh, and this sentence too.

The acting was good, from all concerned, Ben & Uma seemed to really enjoy making the picture but at $20 million per picture, you can’t really argue with that. Quite a nice Paycheck, in fact!