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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Ben Affleck
Uma Thurman
Aaron Eckhart
Paul Giamatti.
Directors
John Woo.
Screenwriters
Dean Georgaris
Philip K Dick.
Running Time
98 minutes

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Paycheck
Futuristic corporate espionage/amnesia thriller from John Woo.


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Plot
In the near future, Michael Jennings earns his living 'reverse-engineering' major electronics projects before having his memory wiped to protect his clients' confidentiality. However, on awakening after a marathon two-year gig and expecting a mammoth paym


Review
Philip K. Dick's uniquely screwy, inventively paranoid world-view has inspired half a dozen or more movies, and yet no-one has even come close to capturing the strange, Day-Glo hyperreality of his uneasy universe. Instead, each director brought his own visual sensibility to cherry-picked Dickensian ideas: retro-fitted postmodernism meets tech-noir in Blade Runner, for example, or balls-out pantomimic action in Total Recall.

John Woo gets no closer to the real, borderline Kafka-esque Dick in this brightly vacuous slice of hokum, which has Ben Affleck running around a somewhat under-designed future in the company of some seriously under-written characters, attempting to work out why he has sent himself an envelope stuffed with worthless tat. Both Affleck and Woo are in need of minor career fillips after the star's flop Gigli and Woo's disappointing Windtalkers. And while Paycheck is certainly better than either of those, it still falls a little flat.

Woo's decision to tone down his trademark visual flamboyance - based, apparently, on a desire to stress the 'ordinariness' of the central character - sadly does just that. It also reveals the paucity of the screenplay, in which the characters have a habit of vanishing for half-hours at a time before re-emerging at key moments. Affleck is serviceable enough, but it beggars belief that Uma Thurman, post Kill Bill, would even consider a role as anaemic as 'plant biologist' Rachel, who spends most of her time floating around a greenhouse watering the pretty - strike that, this is Woo - very pretty flowers.

Things are partially rescued by an extended motorbike/car/chopper chase that reminds us why Woo is still the best action director on the block. As swooping 'wirecam' shots follow the bike through conveniently discarded drainage pipes, the scene is pacy enough to distract from the flimsy construction. But, in the end, Paycheck never quite cashes out.


Verdict
Not really, but not particularly bad either. Some remedial script work is in need, and the characters are far from compelling. But the action is up to scratch and it rattles happily along.


Reviewed by Adam Smith


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Paycheck
Empire Star Rating

RE: no where near afflecks worse

Paycheck (2003) Another classic Philip K. Dick story is brought to the big screen only this time its been 'Woo'd'. To be very very honest this is pretty much a poor mans 'Minority Report' with a bad cast, accept for the big chinned Eckhart, why this short story has not been given the same care as 'MR' I don't know. The film plays out with Affleck (yes -_-) as a 'reverse engineer' who...actually I still have no idea really what he is suppose to do in his role, all I know is it involves... More

Posted by Phubbs at 06:54, 10 April 2012 | Report This Post


no where near afflecks worse

i do agree ben affleck misses a lot of basic acting skills and at times looks a bit lost but this i i dont think is that bad the rest of the cast is good which helps alot and the idea is a good one worth a watch but not to be taken seriously ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chrisharvey1551 at 02:10, 01 December 2011 | Report This Post


Fun, Half-Decent Actioner

But nowhere near up to the standards of woo's earlier work. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 15:51, 13 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Paycheck

Quite enjoyed this. Nice bit of enjoyable fun. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shool at 15:12, 03 September 2007 | Report This Post


Paycheck

An embarrassing excuse for an action film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by solid snake at 20:00, 14 December 2006 | Report This Post


RE: The Nadir

I didnt mind Paycheck at all, it was quite entertaining and kept me amused for an hour or so. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dready at 21:18, 30 October 2006 | Report This Post


The Nadir

As a massive John Woo fan, the moment I heard he was directing ben affleck my heart dropped. The most uncharismatic actor of his generation replacing the likes of nic cage?doomed from the start. and while i defend bits and pieces of his hollywood work(face/off was outstanding, even m:i-2 had its vintage moments) this is the bottom of the barrel for the master and even a lowpoint in a career (pearl harbour,gigli,jersey girl,reindeer games,surviving christmas ouch) of lowpoints for muttonhead affl... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cadz at 14:38, 29 October 2006 | Report This Post


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