Directed by John Woo, starring Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Aaron Eckhart, Colm Feore and Paul Giamatti.
It hasn't been easy for John Woo fans since 'Face/Off'. 'M:I2' had plenty of set pieces but not much soul while 'Windtalkers' didn't have the drama to live up to the battles. Both, however, were far more enjoyable - and defensible - than 'Paycheck'.
Affleck plays Michael Jennings, a computer genius who helps corporations copy their rivals' products and then has his memory part-erased afterwards so he can't give any trade secrets away. His big pay day arrives when old pal industrialist Rethrick (Eckhart) offers him $90m, if he'll give up a sizeable chunk of the future to work on a top secret project. Jennings agrees and emerges from a mind scrub three years later to pick up his earnings. Except they aren't there. Somehow, while locked away in Rethrick's labs, Jennings decided to give up the money and settle instead for a brown envelope containing a key, a bus ticket, a diamond bracelet, a crossword, a bullet and other seemingly random items. Now all he has to do is stay alive long enough to find out why.
If this was the work of some jobbing director it would be easier to have a little more tolerance, but Woo is one of the action greats and seeing him trot out a film with TV movie dynamics is galling. Based on a Philip K Dick ('Minority Report', 'Blade Runner') novel, 'Paycheck' rarely rises to exciting and adds further weight to the argument that most times you see digital text on the opening credits of a movie worse is to come. For Affleck it's another career cul-de-sac after 'Daredevil' while Thurman's role requires little of her - perhaps if she had been the hero and Affleck the sidekick, there would be more to talk about. Instead you'll leave the cinema knowing exactly how Jennings feels once he's completed a job.
If ever a movie title summed up a viewer's assessment of all those involved it's this one.