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Paycheck (2004)

Remember the future

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 119 minutes

UK Certificate: 12A

“Remember the future”, crows the tagline on the poster for this latest Ben Affleck vehicle. Remember the future? I’m struggling to remember the film! And it’s barely an hour since I watched it! But, if nothing else, ‘Paycheck’ proves that it is possible for a movie to be completely rubbish and highly entertaining at the same time.

J-Lo’s lesser half steps gingerly into the role of Michael Jennings, a top reverse engineer who also happens to be remarkably proficient at hand-to-hand combat – which you just know is bound to come in handy later on. In an opening premise perhaps coming a little too close to fiction mirroring reality, our hero will do anything for a big wad of cash. So, with apparently very little consideration for the consequences, he agrees to work for a shady electronics firm for three years, and then have the memory of the entire experience erased from his noggin.

The trouble is, once the three years are up, he finds the FBI on his tail, a whole bunch of blokes in suits trying to shoot him, and his mammoth fortune replaced by a small brown envelope full of various trinkets – and he can’t remember why! Oh no! Whatever will he do? Unfortunately, you’ll need to bump up B-Aff’s own personal “paycheck” to find out.

‘Paycheck’ truly is a brainless piece of cinema. Every decision our lead character takes seems to be the least sensible (unless, of course, his aim is to become involved in as many shoot-outs and car chases as possible), and the premise relies on so many daft contrivances that I found myself chuckling when I was supposed to be on the edge of my seat.

But there’s little doubting director John Woo’s ability to bring smash ‘em crash ‘em action to the big screen with great effect, and there are a couple of set-pieces in this film that truly are enjoyable. With both Affleck and his co-star Uma Thurman giving us little to get excited about in terms of either chemistry or all-round performance, the action side of things in fact comes as a God-send. Or at least a Woo-send.

It's Got: Affleck out-running a subway train whilst at the same time managing to keep his hair suspiciously well-kempt.

It Needs: Not to be taken remotely seriously – not that anyone will, of course.


Enjoyable, if completely ridiculous, popcorn fodder.