A man named Jennings (Ben Affleck) is a skilled reverse engineer for hire. People, or even companies, can hire Jennings to do jobs, and once the task is done his memory is wholly wiped, leaving him with no knowledge of his actions. The duration of these jobs is typically a couple of weeks. It is easy money for Jennings, but he has hopes to one day gain a bigger score and the ultimate “Paycheck”.
One day a close friend of Jennings approaches him with a job unlike anything he has ever done before. Unlike his previous jobs, Jennings is asked to conduct three years of work with the standard memory wipe at the end. He is offered a large sum of money along with company stock and shares, all of which will set Jennings up for life. Naturally, Jennings cannot refuse such a fair offer. He accepts, and soon wakes up having completed the three-year job with no memories attached.
As promised, Jennings discovers a large sum of money in his bank account along with the stocks and shares as per his agreement. But unfortunately for Jennings he soon discovers not anything is what is seems. Jennings actually has nothing, and he is broke! All he has is an envelope that he left himself. Inside the envelope are several strange and pointless objects which seem silly to Jennings. But little does he know that these objects have an essential part to play. Jennings is now seeking answers and consistently questioning what he’s been doing for the last three years, all while being hunted down by a group of armed men.
This film was directed by John Woo, who was very big in the ’90s. John Woo directed many action hits including Broken Arrow, Face/Off along with Mission Impossible II. This time the director tackles a different style of action by mixing it with an element of sci-fi. I enjoyed the world that is created in Paycheck and the action sequences are also stunning and pleasing.
While I love the creative world within this film, one element that is extremely disappointing are the performances from Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman. Their performances and characters are certainly a weaker aspect in this film as they both seem quite vague and filled with cheesy dialogue. The relationship between the two characters is also challenging to accept on-screen. The plot is generally fun, but there are moments that are predictable. Viewers will quickly learn which shots, objects and conversations are to be used again later in the film.
Overall, for the most part this film is a brainless sci-fi action flick which somewhat differs from the directors’ previous work. The action sequences are quite pleasing, particularly in the film’s final act, including a stunning motorbike sequence. The mystery here is also fun as viewers discover the truth along with the lead character. Unfortunately, Paycheck is also filled with quite dull performances from both Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman (which genuinely shocked me!). Poor performances mean it is hard to enjoy the key characters for the full duration. Would proudly suggest movie lovers check this out if you enjoy titles such as Total Recall or Minority Report.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden