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Review Paycheck (2003): Entertaining but a little underwhelming!

genre: action, mystery, science fiction

Unlike the films John Woo had made before Paycheck is more about the plot than the action. There still is enough plenty of action to behold but it's more in service of the plot to point out the danger our lead Jennings (Ben Affleck) is in. A very big plus is the fact that the film is based on a short story written by none other than Philip K. Dick.

I also need to emphasize that when I say plot I am more referring to the mystery element inside it. Don't expect any real character development or true exploration of the science fiction themes being touched upon. I don't really understand why that is. It's what make these stories compelling. In any case there is enough there to feel there is something at stake even if the film does a poor job of really hitting you with the scale of it all. Paycheck should be a bigger movie with more intrigue and thrills. And yet for some reason everything looks and feels like events and plot have been scaled down. Just because the story it was based on was short doesn't mean it's less big or epic. Paycheck does feature a cool element where experts seem to have found a way to wipe out someone's memory for security reasons after this person has fulfilled his job. In this case if Jennings successfully has reverse engineered whatever he was supposed to engineer. He doesn't seem to mind losing all of his memories since he gets a large paycheck every time he finishes a job. Only this time he needs to do a job much longer than advisable. It's after finishing this particular job that things go very wrong for him.

So in a very quiet and subtle way you are told that there are negative consequences to losing memories. I mean what if like Jennings you would meet the love of your life but you completely forgot about meeting her or remembering all the good and precious moments. More prominent is how Jennings has left himself a few objects to have him reverse engineer certain key moments and events that will lead him to the truth. Not going to lie that was a pretty awesome concept. However the absence of logic and real deduction does make it a bit too magical. Detracting quite a lot from the suspense and tension.

Speaking of the love interest. While I understand why it's there I would have liked it had it been left out. Uma Thurman and Ben Affleck have zero chemistry. It's a bit awkward to see them playing a couple. Almost all of the supposed romantic and sweet gestures look fake. And Thurman for some reason also has a hard time to act and behave like a strong woman in an action film. This is like straight after Kill Bill. Were her memories wiped? Or did she just didn't care to actually be there? Whatever it is, it's bit sad. I have yet to see a film where Ben Affleck can do romance properly. Well, maybe he was kind of good in Jersey Girl. In any case the severe lack of tension will ask a lot of you accepting the two as a couple.

But honestly, while the Wooisms are barely there I can't claim that I didn't enjoy myself.  This was like the third time I watched and can't find a real reason to dislike it. Although at the same time I can't find a reason to love it. It's decent. And sometimes that's enough.

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