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Paycheck on DVD

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 he’s 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 paycheck.

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 he’s 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. It’s just too bad we can’t all see into the future.

Even though, essentially, many of Philip K. Dick’s 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 what’s going on.

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 you’re sick of the whole Bennifer phenomenon, Paycheck is well worth checking out for fans of the genre. Sure, we’ve 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 doesn’t 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. There’s plenty of information to be had here, especially for aspiring filmmakers.

The second track is by screenwriter Dean Georgaris, and doesn’t offer the same kind of pleasant information. It’s more boring, with plenty of gaps.

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 doesn’t have much to say about the production. “The Stunts of Paycheck” is a little more informative, but doesn’t 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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