PAYCHECK BUT NO PAY-OFF
I saw Paycheck with two of my sisters last night. I wasn't going to write anything about it as it doesn't deserve any kind of serious treatment... Oh, did I let that slip? Well, now that I've started...
We decided that although the film is somewhat disappointing and doesn't amount to much, Paycheck would be a movie we will recommend to our Mother. She likes action-thriller kinds of movies -- as long as they don't have sex and language. Paycheck actually has a couple of blasphemies right up front, but after that it settles in to a nice visual ride.
We decided that the problem with Paycheck is that it is trying to come off as much smarter than it really is. Kind of like a university professor who comes to class with wire-framed spectacles and a bow-tie, but then never really says anything memorable. The movie has a potentially interesting theme (all about the spiritual/moral impact of knowing the future), but then the writer didn't have the personal depth to really come up with some worthwhile wrestling with the topic.
We decided that sci-fi films that are not about any profound theme, are pretty much all absurd and forgettable. We can't say why yet, but we decided we are really on to something with this thesis.
We decided that Paycheck is confusing and absurd simply too many times for this film to be really fun. Again, it feels like it is trying too hard to be clever.
We decided that ripping off a device from a classic film is always a bad idea for a pedestrian film such as this one...although it made us feel very smug and superior to be able to lean over during the screening and say, "This is a stupid version of Charade. It's the stamps, idiot." And also, "Mr. Affleck, I know Cary Grant. Cary Grant is an ideal-man of mine. You are no Cary Grant."
We decided that Ben Affleck is not a good actor, and is really not the sexiest man alive, and in fact, has that Boston-Southie kind of beer-induced common look about him. You have to live here in New England to know what we mean... Perfectly expressed by L.M. Montogmery n one of the Anne books: "In the end, Sloanes are just Sloanes....") Anyway, we also decided that this would be the last $9.50 we would ever spend on a movie featuring Ben -- although we did decide to stay open to possible matinee screenings if legions of critics we respect rave about some one of his future projects.
We decided we will really have to hate Uma Thurman for being able to spend two-thirds of Paycheck with a hideous, stringy and dried out hairstyle, and yet still come out of it looking stunning.
But, as I said, we also decided to tell Mom she can see this film without taking too much offense. It does keep moving, and it has all the style of a studio film. It just doesn't amount to much and I would never recommend it to anyone once the big-screen experience has passed. If you're going to see it at all, go to the theater.