A/V Room









Paycheck - US reaction

Compiled by: Jack Foley

BEN Affleck’s latest, Paycheck, has failed to make much of an impression on US critics, following its Christmas Day release in America.

Affleck stars as a world famous genius, who does specialised projects for high-tech corporations, before getting his memory erased in return for a massive pay cheque. When his latest project fails to yield the money, however, he must uncover the clues he has left for himself to find out about his past, and prevent people from killing him.

The movie is based upon a short story by Philip K Dick (Blade Runner/Minority Report) and co-stars Uma Thurman and Aaron Eckhart. It is directed by John Woo.

But the general consensus seems to be one of disappointment, with the New York Times aptly summing up the mood by writing that ‘this smooth but bland thriller may be the best we would possibly expect from John Woo directing a Philip K Dick adaptation, especially when Ben Affleck is added to the mix’.

Rolling Stone referred to it, merely, as ‘a ‘limp retread of Minority Report’, while Entertainment Weekly found that ‘the amazing thing about John Woo's steely, impersonal adaptation of Philip K. Dick sci-fi story ... is how it vanishes in front of our eyes even as we watch it’.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, meanwhile, felt that it ‘belongs with the likes of Impostor: a near-future tale of paranoia and suspense of disappointingly generic proportions’.

While USA Today wrote that ‘though the premise is provocative enough, the execution feels like a host of other violent action-drenched movies’.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, opined that ‘if a movie is going to flout, or at least bend, the laws of the universe, it at least ought to obey its own internal rules’.

On a more positive note, however, Newsday felt that while ‘Paycheck's no breakthrough, but it's the tightest John Woo movie since his Hong Kong heyday’.

And the Hollywood Reporter wrote that ‘writer, Dean Georgaris, and director, John Woo, propel a viewer through shoot-outs, chases and suspense sequences that break enough new ground to feel fresh’.

But, in the main, the verdict was overwhelmingly negative, spelling another misfire for the increasingly frustrating Affleck.

The San Francisco Chronicle, for instance, wrote that ‘without ever quite becoming boring, Paycheck seems to narrow into a routine pattern, and a plot that at first had nuance and the hint of a broader meaning degenerates into chases and standard action’.

And the Detroit News wrote that ‘instead of a nifty thriller, Woo delivers typical bombast, making what should be an exciting film feel like 'Exhibit A' in the case against modern action films’.

Village Voice brings things to a neat conclusion, however, by stating that ‘the law of diminishing returns appears to have caught up with Hollywood's Philip K. Dick infatuation’.

The film did, however, make $13.9 million for the weekend, and $19.2 million for the four days since its release, which, according to a spokesman for the distributor, Paramount Puictures, was in line with expectations. The film cost about $60 million.

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