Paycheck on DVD
Many of us live our lives paycheck to paycheck.
Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) relies more on his paycheck than most, because
once hes finished the job, he has his short-term memory erased. Whether
the job takes three days or three years, all he has to show for it is his extensive
Michael is a reverse engineer. He takes existing inventions, deconstructs them,
and puts them back together with some major improvements, such as a computer
monitor that no longer requires the use of a monitor. The memory wiping occurs
so that the companies he works for will have undisputed ownership of the products.
When hes asked by Rethrick (Aaron Eckhart) to take a job that will keep
him busy for three years (and ultimately have those three years erased), Michael
agrees based on the guaranteed eight-figure salary (which ends up being $93
million). But upon collection (and after the memory wipe), he discovers that
mere weeks before, he agreed to forfeit his entire share. Understandably upset
by the event, Michael feels that something must have gone wrong.
Armed only with a package containing some seemingly useless items, Michael
has to piece the puzzle together to save himself and the world.
Based on a novel by Philip K. Dick, Paycheck is a well-constructed action thriller
that has a lot of fun with the possibility of time-viewing. Even if you have
some questions along the way, everything will be wrapped up nicely. Its
just too bad we cant all see into the future.
Even though, essentially, many of Philip K. Dicks stories are the same
(a good person on the run from a corporation for some reason, and forced to
put the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out why), he uses technology
and the possibility of technology very creatively. In Minority
Report, it was fascinating how everything worked out in the end and all
the chain of events led up to one another. In many ways, Paycheck works the
same way, waiting until the very end of the movie to tell us exactly whats
Directed by John Woo (Face/Off, MI:2), Paycheck is
one of those action movies that looks great and delivers some really cool action.
Unlike MI:2, however, Paycheck actually has a good story as well.
And while Ben Affleck may be hard to swallow as a leading man these days, the
supporting cast more than makes up for it.
Even if youre sick of the whole Bennifer phenomenon, Paycheck is well
worth checking out for fans of the genre. Sure, weve seen it all before,
but everything is done well enough that it almost feels new.
The special edition of the film is pretty good. Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic
widescreen (and also a separate Pan&Scan version), the picture doesnt
look as good as it should, but is still not bad. From time to time, scenes look
so muddy and grainy that it looks like they completely forgot to master them
to DVD. But otherwise, color, detail and skin tones are all done very effectively.
Audio is better, with excellent separation of elements, a good workout for
the subwoofer, and plenty of opportunities for the surround speakers to show
their stuff (well, not show, but you know what we mean). The action scenes send
a whole whack of sound effects in every direction, filling the room and bringing
you into the action.
John Woo provides the first of two commentaries on the disc. His heavy accent
makes it hard to understand clearly, but he loves making movies and can talk
about them endlessly. Theres plenty of information to be had here, especially
for aspiring filmmakers.
The second track is by screenwriter Dean Georgaris, and doesnt offer
the same kind of pleasant information. Its more boring, with plenty of
Two featurettes, that run a combined 35 minutes, offer a glimpse into the making-of
Paycheck. Designing the Future is more of a PR piece that features
interviews with the cast and crew, but doesnt have much to say about the
production. The Stunts of Paycheck is a little more informative,
but doesnt spend enough time on any one aspect. There are also seven deleted
and extended scenes, all of which were rightfully cut and would have bogged
the movie down.
Paycheck, from Paramount Home Entertainment
118 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Ben Affleck, Aaron Eckhart, Uma Thurman, Paul Giamatti, Joe Morton
Produced by John Davis, Michael Hackett, John Woo, Terence Chang
Screenplay by Dean Georgaris, Directed by John Woo
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