Paycheck is directed by John Woo (director of Mission Impossible 2 and Face/Off) and is pretty much standard fare for him, with the exception that the storyline is absolutely fantastic – Ben Affleck stars as Michael Jennings, an engineer who does ‘reverse development’ (that is, he takes existing technology, and takes it apart, then puts it together again, in order to sell it to his employers as ‘original’ technology).
At the completion of each job, his memory of what he has done is erased, so that he can’t take ownership of any of the technology he ‘creates’. When he is offered a job by an old friend (James Rethrick, played by Aaron Eckhart), things go horribly wrong and he is forced to try and piece together his memory and avert disaster, by following subtle clues and surprise tools he has left himself.
Paycheck is a combination of action and sci-fi thriller – and that makes it right down my alley. Affleck and Eckhart are brilliant in this (which is a compliment to Affleck, since he usually sucks).
The action scenes are well orchestrated and pulled off with absolute perfection, which is a specialty of John Woo. The story is dealt with in a real, and sobering, manner – in particluar, there is a time travel facet to the story which is particularly well done – makes me think why we would even want to mess with this kind of technology. Overall, Paycheck is a great sci-fi action movie, and I give it a solid 8 out of 10 – problems included the minimalistic use of Eckhart, and co-star Uma Thurman, both of whom did well, but didn’t get enough screentime. Also, the supporting cast, including Michael C Hall, Joe Morton and Colm Feore, were sub-par – they just didn’t seem to hit the nail on the head.