Retro Review: Paycheck

When you look back on Paycheck, it looked like it was game over for him. How did he ever come back from making drivel like this?

Based on a Phillip K. Dick story, Ben plays Michael Jennings, a near future technician who signs a deal to have his memories altered after every assignment.

The angle is that if the techies can’t remember then there is less chance for corporate espionage or information leaking. Jennings loves his work and his non-committal world. That is until he is presented with a deal he can’t refuse.

Jennings is approached by his friend, Rethrick (Aaron Eckhart) for a job that would set up him financially for many lifetimes and all he would have to risk would be three years. Jennings thinks about the money and the resemblance of a normal life. Without thinking things through to the core, Jennings accepts.

At the beginning of his new assignment Jennings falls for a biologist named Rachel (Uma Thurman) and before we know it we are waking up with Jennings 3 years into the future.

Jennings discovers that his money was signed away for an envelope full of 19 random objects. The objects will hopefully map out a reason behind the mystery of the last 3 years. Or at least he thinks so.

Why is this movie so bad??

“Paycheck” is utterly baffling. It is brilliantly photographed, we don’t have any moody characters like in previous Dick adaptations, we don’t have any Pre-Cogs or a lot of rain. We have an interesting story that we hope evolves into a thrilling mystery. So what’s wrong?

Well all the basics are there but there seems to be something wrong with the final execution. The film is fascinating and kept me enthused until it flashed forward 3 years.

First there are scenes with men pointing guns at each other’s heads as they ramble off useless dialogue. Then there is the dove flying through the heavily lit door. Sure these are director John Woo staples but for the most part they seem like lame clichés.

Next we have the casting of Uma Thurman as Affleck’s love interest. After seeing Kill Bill’s first volume, I had a real hard time believing Thurman was a damsel in distress. Thurman is a very accomplished actress and it was painful seeing her dumb herself down this low. She should have been kicking butt just like Ben.

Another thing I had problems with was Affeck’s sack of useless goodies. Is this guy trying to be cloned off as the future’s answer to “MacGyver”? Plus even when he’s offered a gun he refuses. He is such a wuss. All the sack using stuff made me giggle because it was just so inane.

Finally there were so many examples of bad dialogue I found myself laughing at the screen. The dialogue referring to time, love and the future was so badly written I felt like I was reading Harlequin Romance. I was hysterical by the time the villains meet their inevitable fates. The film was just so awful in its final conception I could help but howl.

Thank God Ben Affleck has redeemed since making crap like this flick!

(1.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer

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