IHAO on ... Paycheck

I recently talked about Minority Report, the abysmal adaption of Philip K. Dick's short story that's got the same name.  Recap in the linky.  Philip K. Dick has written many MANY stories that have become films.  I very much hope to some day own all of them, good or bad, just to have a full collection.  Some of them you probably have heard of, like Total Recall and Blade Runner.  Some you may have never heard a peep about like Screamers or Imposters.  I'm going to talk about one that has all the Total Recall-style sci fi we have come to love from Dick's stories, and then add in a healthy dose of John Woo action!

Paycheck stars soon to be Batman, Ben Affleck, as a man who is an engineer that makes his money by doing highly sensitive "backwards engineering" and then having his memory wiped.  Normally these jobs are a month or two.  But for this film, it is a few year stretch.  Upon waking up from that now memory-less few years, he finds that the items he left behind are no longer there, replaced with an assortment of random items he has never seen before.  And going to a bank, he finds that the huge payout he deserves was rejected ... by himself.  From here, it is a mystery action adventure as he tries to piece together what he figured out already but now no longer remembers.

The movie is fun, action packed, and have an amazingly cool world.  The trick to good sci-fi is not going too overboard.  Minority Report went crazy overboard on stupid sci-fi tricks.  But really, Paycheck COULD have been set in the 90s.  The technology is important, but not important to the setting, just the plot.  It makes the story much more accessible and interesting.  I really really enjoyed this.

Ben Affleck gets a bad rap, I think, or at least I think he has perceived as having one, but this year in particular I've found more and more films starring him to love.  Uma Thurman is also in this, and I actually really like her here, which is not normal, because other than the Adventures of Baron Munchausen and the coffin scene from Kill Bill Vol. 2, I find her at best neutral.  But she is very believable, which is incredibly necessary for this plot, and for the emotion of these characters.

I really cannot recommend this movie enough.  It has some silly moments of John Woo-ness, but the story is solid, the action is great, and the whole thing is crazy enjoyable.

Grade: A

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