Quantcast

ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

Reviews & Counting
SEARCH BY TITLE
# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Paycheck(2003)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: John Woo

Starring:
Ben Affleck/Michael
Uma Thurman/Rachel
Aaron Eckhart/Rethrick
5 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
In a not so distant future, computer engineer Michael (Affleck) gets more than he bargained for when he takes a three year job to build something, gets his memory of doing the deed erased (that’s part of the procedure) and then sees his hefty paycheck bounce when he goes to cash it. Lots of chases, pow-wow and Affleck playing with a stick (no…not Matt Damon’s) follow.
THE LOWDOWN
\"Paycheck\" was average and that in itself was mucho surprising when taking into account the talent behind it. First off, it’s based on a Philip K. Dick short story, the same duder who gave us \"Blade Runner\", \"Total Recall\" and \"Minority Report\". Second of all, it’s directed by the maestro of action himself, John Woo, who treated us to such polished “bang-bang” classics as \"The Killer\", \"Hardboiled\", \"Hard Target\" (yeah, you heard me) and \"Face/Off\". So what happened here? Who put the sedative in everybody’s drinks?

On the upside, I will say this: I was never bored while viewing this easy lay. \"Paycheck\" kept me within its grasp by offering up a fly-by-your-pants pace, a kool premise and clever devices via the use of the “19 items” and the act of foreseeing the future. It also had me smiling when it tossed decent action sequences my way with the motorcycle jamboree definitely being the highlight in that department. Its last potent punch was that the fine acting on display often elevated the quality of the material to a higher level. The best example of that would have to be the flimsily written love story at play. The only reason it was even remotely touching or engaging was due to Uma Thurman’s spunky performance and her adequate chemistry with Ben Affleck.

On a “too bad” note, I felt that the side characters in the film were badly interpreted by the no-name actors in the fold. They weakened the whole of the affair. The screenplay behind this baby was also nothing to go nuts about, where it basically used its fly premise as a launching pad for an extended chase sequence. Nothing wrong with that, but taking into account the gnarly nature of the premise, I expected them to focus on it more instead of simply dabbling in it. We also had the action sequences themselves that came out fairly routine, especially when taking into account that John “style whore” Woo was behind them. I was still tap-dancing with them to some extent (I love action), but Woo’s flamboyant panache was mostly absent. If it wouldn’t be for his token “Mexican stand-off” and “flying dove” spiel surfacing at some points, I wouldn’t have thought that Woo had directed the film. Have you lost your Midas touch, bro?

Lastly, the bland setting didn’t help make this tale more engaging. It all looked a lot like Vancouver BC. Wait a minute, it was Vancouver BC!! Now I dig BC as place to visit, to go snowboarding and to get laid, but it needed a tad more dress-up to deliver in the sci-fi department. Just take \"Total Recall\" as an example. We had something there to complement the nature of the situation and to stimulate us visually. Here, it was all shot pretty straight-forward and the sets were nothing to pop wood over. It all just looked too damn “basic”! I can just imagine how much more effective this story would’ve been if it was set within a “Dark City\" like setting and had some type of atmosphere to back it up. This is a sci-fi flick, mofos, not a car commercial! Give me something!

Overall though, for what its worth, this pedestrian “man on the run” jamboree kept me engaged most of the way. I enjoyed it for what it was: “a wham-bam, who are you again?” opus. You’re craving effortless and vacuous entertainment? Cash this check and you’ll get it!
GORE
We’re treated to a needle being inserted in one’s arm and light blood here and there. Think watered down violence. Bummer, where’s Paul Verhoeven when you need him?
ACTING
I’m usually not a big fan of Ben Affleck (Michael), but he came through here, giving an admirable performance. I’m starting to warm up to the guy. Uma Thurman (Rachel) took her nothing part and injected it with charisma and personality. What a great actress! Aaron Eckhart (Rethrick) was a delight as the bad guy. He had the right look and presence for the role. You see the jaw on that animal? Paul Giamatti (Shorty) played Paul Giamatti again, yes the token comic relief. He worked most of the way, but I felt embarrassed for him during the final frames of the film. Lousy stuff!
T & A
The ladies get Ben Affleck showing off his leftover \"Daredevil\" muscles in a tank top, while us guys get…uh…well, Ben Affleck showing off his leftover \"Daredevil\" muscle in…you guessed it…a tank top! Which is equal to NATHING!
DIRECTING
Although we get freeze frames, split screens, slow motion and some flashiness, Woo is on auto pilot here, serving this feast cold in a half-hearted fashion. What’s going Woo? Problems on the home front? Weather got you down? Tell me about your mother...?
SOUNDTRACK
We get a serviceable score. Whatever…
BOTTOM LINE
\"The 6th Day\" was \"Total Recall\" Light and this puppy is \"Total Recall\" Extra Light. John Woo obviously directed \"Paycheck\" for the “paycheck”. I know that was an easy one, but I’m that guy today. Everything that Woo is adored for was half-stirred, half-baked, half-humped, half-cocked, half-kicked and half-assed here. Come back to us, Woo! COME BACK! I will admit that I still got some easy round kicks off this standard offering though. It gave me enough thrills and smiles to warrant at least one viewing. So if you’re in the mood for a typical, brainless “hero kills bad guys, gets the girl, a big explosion erupts and he then saves the day” type of candy, you’ll be well served when cashing this check.
BULL'S EYE
This flick was shot in Vancouver BC, Canada .

Screenwriter Dean Georgaris (\"Tomb Raider 2\") was behind the script for this film.

Brett Ratner and Kathryn Bigelow were considered to direct this film before John Woo locked the deal.