After reading this article on Philip K. Dick and seeing the trailers, I was curious to see Paycheck. With movies like BladeRunner, Total Recall and Minority Report, Dick has posthumously become a sub-genre in Hollywood. Despite Ben Affleck in the leading roll and the lamest movie poster in recent history, I was optimistic.
I should have stayed home, gotten drunk on nog and rum and stared at the wall. It would have been more rewarding.
In one of the fim’s early scenes, Affleck fitness trains with a wooden staff. This is deeply unwise, as it only invites comparisons on whose performance is stiffer–Ben’s or the staff. Were he practicing at the beach, there might also be a battle for shallowest acting, but enough said. The staff, of course, returns near the film’s climax so that Ben (despite being a straight-laced, tie-wearing engineer) can wallop several dozen henchmen. Not since Tom Cruise’s gymnastics routine in The Firm have I seen a more obvious physical skill setup and pay-off. While her character has little to do but squeal and duck, the usually reliable Uma Thurman seems to play down to Affleck’s level. The usual suspects in the supporting cast–the side kick, the villain, the right-hand man.
The plot is utterly predictable. I won’t reveal too much, but suffice it to say that there are few plot twists, and comatose four-year-old could guess at the outcome.
This film is, accidentally, an illustration of Steven Spielberg’s talent. It has a similar story and scope to Minority Report, but this movie falls short in every way. The casting, the story-telling, the cinematography, the style–it all falls short. Most disappointing is the Paycheck’s ‘futureness’. Minority Report has exceptional future hightech style, with all of its innovations and gadgets molding into a plausible futurescape. This film can’t even offer gadgets. Basically, it’s set in a future that looks, feels and works exactly like today, except for the technology that are plot devices. This shows a shameful lack of creativity.
In short, just go rent Bladerunner. It’s twenty years old but has more style and character in its opening sequence than this entire film can muster.