Paycheck

Dir: John Woo
2004
Some have joked that “Paycheck” alludes to how John Woo saw this film.
They’re probably right. The filmmakers take an interesting premise (from Philip K. Dick, who never gets any respect) and make it exquisitely dull by gussying everything up in cold blue techno sheen and throwing in a pointless car chase. When a solitary (CG?) dove flies out of a door for no reason at all I felt the screen should have read Copyright John Woo 1990.
Ben Affleck plays a reverse engineer who has his brain wiped at the end of every top-secret project he works on. Apparently, he’s very good at this and works at some sort of MicrosoftEvilCorp, who employs him to steal competitors ideas and make them their own (wow, just like in real life!).
Then he is approached by Aaron Eckhart to reverse engineer something so furshlugginerly top secret, Ben will have to have all of three years wiped. Benefit? Ninety million dollars. Sure, erase away.
So, three years later he finds himself with no money, the Feds accusing him of treason, and no memory of what he did except an envelope of random objects that he sent to his future self.
The film remains a run-n-chase, just instead of our hero using his brains to get out of a situation, he has a future self handing him objects. There aren’t too many philosophical conundrums here, just using keys to unlock doors…and the keys are clearly marked.
Uma Thurman turns up to play the girlfriend (Woo’s not very interested in her, or any females, as usual, or the idea of having your lover lose all knowledge of you. It’s interesting that this film came out the same year as Michel Gondry’s near-classic “Eternal Sunshine,” which takes on all these themes and ideas with 1/25 of the budget, but 10 times the intelligence and caring. When will Mr. Dick stop being dicked?

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