Paycheck   April 21st, 2010

Originally Written 01/09/04

I got to see Paycheck tonight. I was curious to how it would be since it was based on a story by Philip K. Dick. The authors works have been mined for several movies, about half of them good and the other half not so good. The quality of those films has ranged from the brilliant noir film Blade Runner all the way down to the horrible turd Screamers. I’d describe this film as kind of a Minority Report-lite. It wasn’t as good as that movie, but it touched on some similar ideas. The story was less complex and it was more of an action film. I’d put it on the same level as Total Recall, though it didn’t have tongue-in-cheek humor. It was still an entertaining story.

There were some obvious plot holes, but I was able to overlook them without them ruining things. The film had some clever bits playing on the central theme of sending yourself clues about the future which will help you out. It wore a little thin in a couple of places though and it really reminded me of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (“Hey I guess I really did steal my dad’s keys afterall” and “Remember, trash can…”)

I did have problems buying Ben Afleck as an action hero though, as I had in Dare Devil. Both he and Uma Thurman seemed to be miss-cast. The idea of brilliant scientists who happened to be hotties in top physical shape and could handle themselves in fight scenes and hand-to-hand combat was kind of silly. It was made more apparents by the other techie characters being kind of frumpy. That’s typical for Hollywood though and it too didn’t ruin things for me.

As I said this was more of an action movie. John Woo kept things a little restrained though, and except for a few of his standard flourishes, it didn’t feel as much like his vintage style. There was a couple of scenes with the standard Mexican standoff between two characters pointing guns at each others heads, which you’ve got to have. The movie wasn’t spectacular but it was fairly decent overall. It was nice to see John Woo do something decent for a change, since his last few projects have been utterly forgettable.

I got a real chuckle out of the first few scenes in the film. It opens up with Ben Afleck’s character doing a reverse-engineering job and the company whose project he rips off is named ARC. Since I work for the real ARC International, I really had to laugh at that. I wish we made something as cool as a 3D monitor.

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