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Payback (DVD)

Starring: Mel Gibson

Rated: 18

Story: Porter (Gibson), a remorseless criminal, is betrayed and left for dead after taking part in a successful robbery. Upon recovering, he sets out to get even and take back his share of the loot. He's not subtle about it.

Comments: This film is so old it's probably on ITV4 every other week. Still, thanks to having small children, I've lost a few years somewhere. I'm occasionally surprised the Millennium has actually happened already. So, here's a review from 1999:

This is a 'one man against the unassailable criminal organisation' movie. The twist is that the hero isn't a policeman on a mission or a vigilante with a grudge - he's a criminal wanting some cash and a bit of closure on a bad experience. He's John McClane without restraint - resourceful and brave but totally ruthless. The result is a take on the genre which is still fresh (and blessedly free of cheesy one-liners).

The most impressive feature of the film is how Porter remains sympathetic throughout. He's a thief, a thug and a murderer but, in some sense, he has principles. He is obsessed with payback but not on wanton revenge. He only wants 'his' money. He looks after his friends. He doesn't enjoy the violence. And it helps that the people who get in his way are dirty cops, thugs and monsters, so it appears he's fighting back as the world conspires against him. He's likeable and smart as well, allowing you to forget he's a complete psycho nutcase. Gibson pulls it off admirably but it's hard to imagine anyone else getting away with it.

That Porter comes across as a decent guy deep down probably poses plenty of questions about the perception of good and evil. Whether that's intentional or this is just violent, amoral fluff, is another question entirely.

Conclusion: An excellent action thriller... as long as you like Mel Gibson.

Explosions: Two.
Believability: Low.
Trail of corpses: Lengthy.
Mel Gibson: Plenty.
Inadvisable uses of a mousetrap: One.

Rating: 4/5.

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