If you look back at the movies of 2003, there are not many that you would call classics. Oh there are a couple excellent movies like “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” and others, but for the most part 2003 was filled with clunkers.
Regardless of movie quality, I spent much of the year at the movies, usually seeing multiple movies in a day. Why? because it was a chance to see a variety of films and hang out with friends. But I can’t deny we saw some terrible movies that year.
One of the bad movies I saw in 2003 was “Paycheck” starring Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Paul Giamatti and Aaron Eckhart. Hmm, I never realized how many Batman related actors were in this movie. Just have Paul Giamatti play the Penguin in the next movie and then everyone can say they were in a Batman movie.
I almost forgot to mention that “Paycheck” was even directed by John Woo. So as you can imagine, with that cast and a good director, I had high expectations going in. Even if the acting didn’t live up to expectations, I figured the action would.
The film begins with a great concept courtesy of Philip K. Dick, but the film never really develops it. Instead we get a movie put together with parts from other thrillers: a vast laboratory, a cold-blooded billionaire industrialist, the hero in a situation that he doesn’t understand because he can’t remember, etc.
Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman have a strong presence as the leads, having some fun along the way and even shedding a few tears over the fact that they were deeply in love, but he can’t remember it. See, that’s a big part of Affleck’s job. He plays Michael Jennings, a brilliant engineer who hires himself out to reverse-engineer new computer breakthroughs. It makes more sense when you see the movie.
Anyways, he starts with impenetrable codes or uncrackable chips, then takes them apart, sees what makes them tick and reassembles them as way for his employers to sidestep copyright infringement.
Because big bucks are involved in what he does, and because the corporations paying Affleck wouldn’t want him to go babble about the job TV, they write a sneaky clause into his contract: After Batffleck completes a job, his memory is wiped clean, and he’s left with a gap of several weeks or months and a big paycheck.
For his next assignment Michael is hired by Rethrick (Aaron Eckhart), head of a company called Allcom. This assignment will take a little longer than any other, three years to be exact. His mission is to crack an invention that can see into the future. From what I can remember between eye rolls, Two-Face wants to steal a lens so powerful that it follows the curvature of space and time right back to where it started and then some. My head hurts just thinking about it.
For the movie the idea is, if you can predict the future, your stock price will go up. I can think of plenty of other things I’d like to know, like seeing if I’m going to enjoy lunch today or not. But the movie doesn’t thing to ask any other big questions.
“Paycheck” had countless fascinating possibilities it could have explored, and its sad all the filmmakers chose not to. Instead we got a lot of chase scenes and stuff blowing up. Oh well, at least we had dinner at Pizzeria Uno’s that night, so the evening wasn’t a total loss.