out of 4
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Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4
Let's just say 2003 was not Ben Affleck's best year. In this latest
thriller, he plays mild-mannered Michael Jennings, an engineering whiz who's
hired for big bucks by high-tech companies to delve into their competition's
latest technology in order to make it better and cheaper. This is a highly
sensitive form of theft so, as a part of each top-secret project, he agrees to
have his memory erased, both for his employer's protection and his own. But
when he awakens after working for Allcom's billionaire owner (Aaron Eckhart),
three years have passed and the $90+ million that was supposed to have been
deposited in his bank account has vanished. All he has is an envelope
containing 19 everyday objects, ranging from a transit ticket to a single
bullet. Utilizing these seemingly mysterious items as clues, he must
reconstruct what happened and why - a task that's made even more perilous since
a villainous thug (Colm Feore) from Allcom is after him, along with the FBI
operatives. On the other hand, Uma Thurman ("Kill Bill") seems to be on his
side, along with Paul Giamatti ("American Splendor").
Directed by John Woo from a screenplay by Dean Georgaris, based on a 1953
short story by Philip K. Dick, it's an absurd puzzle. Even the chase sequences,
a Woo specialty, are diluted because Affleck is a cinematic light-weight as an
action hero. On the other hand, the concept that the future may/can be changed
by those who glimpse it - well, that's always provocative - as is the wishful
thinking that perhaps Affleck could erase the memory of "Gigli" before his
re-teaming with Jennifer Lopez in the upcoming "Jersey Girl." On the Granger
Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Paycheck" is an inconsequential, dumbed-down 5.
Fascinating theory - poorly executed.
Copyright © 2004 Susan Granger
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