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Paycheck (DVD)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Aaron Eckhart and Uma Thurman.

Rated: 12.

Story: Michael Jennings (Affleck) is an electronics genius who secretly reverse engineers technology for big corporations. They lock him in a lab for months, he steals their competitors ideas and then they wipe his memory so no one finds out. In return, he gets a huge paycheck.

He decides to take one final job, only to wake up oblivious to the last three years and with nothing to show for it but an envelope of twenty everyday objects he can't remember why he mailed to himself. Then people start trying to kill him. It's like the office Christmas party worst-case scenario.

Mysteriously, the objects turn out to be exactly what he needs to MacGyver his way towards some answers as to what is going on...

Comments: Fed up with movies which start at the end and work backwards to hide the predictable nature of the events? Here's a film where they clearly wrote it backwards and then decided to show everything forwards.


Well, to reveal anything more would be to give the game away but the plot of Paycheck is essentially a convenient excuse to make a frantic sequence of improbable escapes seem plausible. For once, surviving one-in-a-million scrapes is a feature and not a reason for scorn. The result is fast-paced and exciting. Ultimately, however, it's all perhaps a little too neat and relies too heavily on its central premise - characterisation is non-existent, there's no real backdrop to the story and everything depends on not just one, but two, unlikely technologies. Don't think about it very hard, though, and Paycheck is rather entertaining. (Maybe even because it skips over so many details.)

With plenty of running about and not much contemplation, Ben Affleck isn't stretched (luckily). The rest of the cast have to make do with characters pulled straight from other movies. There's the evil corporate guy, the efficient henchman, the scientist love interest, the comic sidekick - pretty much everyone you'd expect really apart from the ageing mentor only a few days away from retirement.

Conclusion: A great idea executed merely competently. A little more care (and a different cast) could have made it superb.

Explosions: A couple of big ones.
Ben Affleck running away: Lots.
Uma Thurman looking attractive: Surprisingly little.
Technical plausibility: On a par with cold fusion.
Entirely new uses for a paperclip: One.

Rating: 4/5.


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