WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A brilliant reverse engineer, Michael Jennings (Affleck), makes his living contracting his services out to companies that develop top secret products and then protects their patents by wiping out his memory cells. After finishing his biggest ever job and sacrificing three years of his memories, Jennings awakens to find out that not only did he forfeit his eight figure paycheck before wiping out his memory, but that a bunch of people want him dead and his only clue is an envelope full of worthless stuff that he mailed to himself a few weeks before..
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Before it wrapped up with one of the most ludicrous and impossible finales, PAYCHECK was actually sort of a blast. No one's ever mistaken me for an Affleck aficionado, but even I'd be hard pressed to blast him for this effort despite some pretty bad word of mouth that had reached me beforehand. Big Ben's still not exactly what I'd consider a "good actor", but he got through this one unscathed and made the most of a decent part. It's a lot of fun to see him make use of the items left for him, although the whole premise of his situation-- which I won't spoil here -- makes it quite easy to cover up any of those unpleasant plot holes. I say "cover up" instead of "close" because if you look a bit deeper, they're still there somewhere but if you're in the mood for digging up and thinking about logical impossibilities...then you're watching the wrong flick to begin with. This is strictly popcorn fare.
Affleck isn't alone in driving this sucker home. He gets plenty of help from Aaron Eckhart as the main antagonist Jimmy Rethrick who hires Jennings and then decides that maybe, just maybe...life might be easier without him. The task of simplifying Rethrick life is handed over to Colm Feore, who plays the role of the asshole in a way that would make even Michael Ironside envious. There's a full complement of anonymous henchmen in there to help them out and to drive cars into exploding objects so the action sequences get pretty animated. The disposable love interest is played by the bug-eyed Uma Thurman with relative ease. Watch for some decent action scenes, including the cheesy finale as you'd expect from director John Woo, who actually tones it down with the camera effects and for once, lets the actors do the acting. PAYCHECK is a decent action flick good for a one-shot viewing. One could even say it's the kind of film that gives you some kicks and that you forget as soon as you're done with, much like Affleck's character does in the movie.
Just enough here to rinse the palate without bloating the stomach, the DVD has a nice little extras package that begins with two full-length audio commentaries. The first one features director John Woo, whom I didn't even know spoke English. Not only does he speak it, but he speaks it pretty well and expresses his thoughts on the movie, the plot and the actors. There's nothing really different than what you'd expect though. The second commentary features screenwriter Dean Georgaris, who touches a bit more on the story and the trinkets in Affleck's mystery envelope. Both men also discuss, in their individual commentaries, the changes that were made to the script on the fly by Woo.
Next up are two featurettes. The first one, Paycheck: Designing the Future (18 mins.) touches on most of the usual "making of" aspects of the flick. The major players show up and spit out their two bits about the whole thing. You also get some info about set designs and the like. The second featurette is Tempting Fate: The Stunts of Paycheck (16 mins.). It breaks down two of the major action scenes, those being a wild motorcycle chase and the cheese-ass finale. The stunts in the movie were pretty cool.
Finally, you get to see six deleted/extended scenes and one alternate ending. The deleted and extended scenes will run you about ten minutes and rate pretty well. Not sure they would have added too much to the flick though but hey, more Eckhart is never bad! The alternate ending, even though it's only a couple of minutes long, made the corny one they used in the final look a bit better.
PAYCHECK is a fun action movie that is best viewed with a mouthful of popcorn, a Big Gulp in one hand and with your other hand... well... do whatever you want with it-- none of my business. It's disposable viewing and with nice summer evenings getting closer, it's best kept for a rainy night. It's not really worth buying though, but is a decent rental. It's also under two hours which makes it easier to watch.