Special Collector's Ed.
Paramount Home Entertainment
Date: May 18, 2004
Review posted: May 31, 2004
Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) is a brilliant
computer engineer hired for top-secret projects. After each job,
Jennings' short-term memory is
erased so he cannot recount any
information. Emerging from his latest assignment,
a three-year contract with an
eight-figure paycheck given
to him by
his longtime friend (Aaron Eckhart),
jolted when he is
told that during the
end of his assignment, he agreed
to forfeit all payment. He has no
recourse until he receives a mysterious envelope containing items/clues
to his forgotten past. With the
help of a beautiful scientist (Uma
Thurman) he once loved but now cannot remember, Jennings races
to solve the
puzzle of his past while a terrifying
in his future.
Much like the film
Minority Report, author Philip K. Dick's short story
"Paycheck" features futuristic elements wrapped around a really
cool concept. Screenwriter Dean Georgaris (Tomb Raider 2)
adapts the story and crafts a pretty decent script. With John Woo
at the helm, the film seemed like it could be good. However, I had
mixed feelings after viewing the film in the theater last year in
December. I liked parts of it, while some elements just didn't
work for me. With the DVD now out in stores, I watched the film
again and liked it a little more. In fact, Paycheck seems
to play better in the comforts of home.
Ben Affleck does a
good job, I think, with most of the material. He does his own
stunts, which is certainly admirable, yet there are certain
(quiet) moments when he doesn't come off strong enough. His relationship
with Uma Thurman's Rachel is only half interesting, and their
romance doesn't resonate as much as it should. Even though her
character is not fleshed out a lot, Thurman handles the role well,
especially in an emotional scene towards the middle of the film.
On the other hand, Eckhart doesn't impress much playing Rethrick,
the designated villain after Colm Feore's Wolfe. Both actors can
act, but their characters are rather lame.
benefits from a fast-paced screenplay. Writer Georgaris presents
action and story elements in a fresh voice, and the mystery of the
twelve items pays off rather well. Director John Woo (Face/Off,
Hard Target) adds his signature
style to the visual element of the film, creating a pretty cool
motorcycle chase and a well-choreographed climax. However, some of
the action doesn't quite work in the context of the story. That
is, it feels as though Woo wants to make the action the highlight
of the film. I don't have anything against making the presentation
of the story more exciting, but to me Woo fails to make
Paycheck mysterious and intriguing.
Despite some flaws
and the few sensationalized action pieces, even though the action
is well choreographed, Paycheck remains a
pretty decent film. I think the film's "concept" is a major draw
and a good enough reason to see the film. While it could've been
better, Paycheck offers a good story and decent
Paycheck in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are bright
and well-saturated. I didn't notice compression artifacts. Grain
is very low key, never a problem. There are no major flaws with
the image; it's clear and devoid of dirt or scratches. Overall,
this is a clean and good-looking presentation.
include English and Closed Captions.
Paycheck in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound. Dialogue is
clear and easy to understand. The sound effects are nicely
reinforced by the surrounds. Channel separation and dynamic
range is evident in this presentation. John Powell's score
sounds good, but is also a little quiet. A very nice
The film is also
available in a French 5.1 dub track and an English Dolby Digital
Collector's Edition DVD starts off with two commentary tracks.
The commentary by
director John Woo features some good information, but also
several silent spots. He describes the action, discusses the
actors, and other things that I found to be only moderately
interesting. While he speaks English rather well, there are
moments when he's a bit hard to understand.
by screenwriter Dean Georgaris is more information-filled
and interesting from the perspective of a writer. Georgaris
discusses changes to the script, characters, motivations, tone,
and reveals some cool trivia long the way. He also points out
all the scenes that Woo changed or adjusted, which leaves me to
question just how much of the first few drafts, one of which I
read and liked, survived until filming. A pretty good track.
Designing the Future (18:12) features interviews with Ben
Affleck, Aaron Eckhart, Uma Thurman, John Woo, Terence Chang,
Colm Feore, and several other people. Topics discussed are
Affleck's character, casting choices, acting, production design,
sets, and John Woo's direction. There's a good amount of on-set
footage and film clips, but also several conceptual drawings and
photos. Colm Feore analyzes a scene late in the film (1:33:52),
which I think is kind of funny. Ah, and Paul Giamatti is in
this, too. Overall, it's a mostly promotional featurette that's
The Stunts of Paycheck (16:45) is an informative
featurette that looks at various stunts in the film, including
the "motorcycle chase", the "subway station", and the
"hydroponic garden". The interviews are quite good, actually, as
is all of the behind-the-scenes footage that supports the
interviews. The featurette also uses storyboard pictures
effectively by blending them into transitions. John Woo tells us
Affleck wanted to do his own stunts and the director let the
actor do it because he looks "so strong and so sexy."
Well, something to that effect, anyway.
Next are six deleted/extended
scenes (10:23). Two add to the film a little bit, like the
confrontation between Jennings and Rethrick, but the other four
don't. The video quality of these is really good, they're
fully-produced. The alternate ending (2:01) is okay; it
features Jennings and Rachel taking a stroll on the street, with
Jennings buying back the diamond ring he lost on the bus earlier
in the film.
Rounding out the
extras are bonus trailers for Sky Captain and the
World of Tomorrow, Timeline, The Perfect Score,
and Against the Ropes.
The 115-minute feature is organized into twenty-two chapters.
a cool concept and fast-paced script, but there are some flaws as
well. Entertainment value is pretty decent, so I recommend a rental.
The DVD edition boasts very nice video/audio, plus a nice featurette
on stunts and a good writer commentary.
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