Paycheck (2003)

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Released 6-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-John Woo (Director)
Audio Commentary-Dean Georgaris (Screenwriter)
Featurette-Paycheck: Designing The Future
Featurette-Tempting Fate: The Stunts Of Paycheck
Deleted Scenes-6
Alternate Ending
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 118:43 (Case: 113)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Woo

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Ben Affleck
Aaron Eckhart
Uma Thurman
Paul Giamatti
Colm Feore
Joe Morton
Michael C. Hall
Peter Friedman
Kathryn Morris
Ivana Milicevic
Christopher Kennedy
Fulvio Cecere
John Cassini
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music John Powell
James McKee Smith
John Ashton Thomas

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    After the huge success of Minority Report, it was inevitable that another film based on the works of prolific science fiction author Phillip K. Dick would eventuate. Dick is fast becoming as popular a choice for film adaptation as Michael Crichton and John Grisham. To date there have been six feature film adaptations, with a seventh (A Scanner Darkly) now in production. Those not familiar with the author are more than likely familiar with the films inspired by their literary counterparts. Bladerunner - arguably Director Ridley Scott’s finest hour, Total Recall - a Paul Verhoeven extravaganza with the Austrian oak in full flight, Screamers – a low budget semi decent Peter Weller outing, Impostor – an overlooked reworking of The Fugitive set 50 years from now starring Gary Sinese, and Minority Report – a Spielberg directed Tom Cruise starring class act. Which brings us to the sixth entry – John Woo’s Paycheck starring Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman.

    Set in the not too distant future, Paycheck depicts a world greedy for technological advancement. Ben Affleck plays Michael Jennings, a reverse technician who is hired, at great cost, to duplicate or in some cases improve on technology patented by rival corporations. There is a catch, however - when the job is completed, the reverse technician has his memory wiped clean therefore avoiding potential prosecution or copyright law infringement. A problem arises when Jennings is hired by an old friend to complete a job that requires three years of memory depletion. Three years far exceeds any known memory erasure technology and poses a lethal risk to the patient. However, the potential windfall of almost 100 million dollars convinces Jennings to take the job. After successfully completing his contract, Jennings finds himself the target of the CIA and a hired hit squad intent on discovering his secrets. Unfortunately, Michael Jennings has no knowledge of his recent past and must piece together the last three years before he is either incarcerated or murdered.

    Paycheck is a well made Action/Sci-Fi film that managed to give Ben Affleck a hit movie after the disastrous Gigli, a film so bad many felt it would end Affleck's career. (Hopefully Jennifer Lopez’s career will never recover from that cinematic travesty). Director John Woo last dabbled in the realm of science fiction with the brilliant Face Off. Paycheck never scales those majestic heights and is basically a gentler version of Total Recall, albeit without the gratuitous violence and genius of Paul Verhoeven. The film moves at a rapid pace and throws several excellent action set pieces at the audience.

    There is no denying that Director Woo knows his way around an action scene, but it is his lack of confidence in dealing with the science fiction elements of the film that prevents the story from reaching its full potential. Quality science fiction when handled well should not only be intelligent and viscerally enthralling, but should also engage the imagination, especially when the source material demands it. Total Recall, Minority Report and Bladerunner remain as compelling now as they were when first released for that simple reason. By that rationale Paycheck is a cracking ride with little substance. However, the story is never less than interesting and benefits from a director with a sure hand in the action arena.

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Transfer Quality


    Paycheck is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is excellent with a razor sharp image and no edge enhancement or aliasing faults to speak of.

    The picture is blessed with solid black levels and an abundance of shadow detail. There is very little in the way of grain and no low level noise interference.

    Colours are textured and vivid, with a slightly metallic appearance to signify a technologically dependant society.

    There are no signs of dirt or film artefacts to spoil the look of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The film has been given three audio tracks. There is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track and two 2.0 surround commentary tracks.

    Dialogue is very clear at all times and never loses clarity amidst the many action set pieces. There are no audio sync issues.

    The film's music by John Powell is fairly non-descript but thankfully never feels bombastic or intrusive.

    The 5.1 surround channel usage is excellent. Directional effects saturate the rear channels with multiple sound elements that totally immerse the viewer. Absolutely first class. The subwoofer adds a potent lower end and reverberation to every sound effect - great work.

    This is definitely one of the better soundtracks I've heard recently and will showcase a surround system to absolutely best effect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Introduction

    Screenshots from the film.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Screenshots accompanied by the film's score.

Audio Commentary - John Woo

    Quite an interesting commentary, especially if you are a fan of the directors work. For example, Woo chooses not to storyboard his work and comes up with a lot of his stunt requirements on the day. A very interesting listen.

Audio Commentary - Dean Georgaris (Writer)

    This is another interesting commentary focusing on the story and script elements required by the film. Georgaris is candid about having to lose certain narrative aspects of his story in favour of visual flourishes required by Director John Woo. There are never any dull patches and the track remains consistently interesting.

Featurette - Designing The Future.

    Running just short of twenty minutes, this featurette covers pre-production and production with interviews with all the principal cast and filmmakers. A nice package.

Featurette - The Stunts Of Paycheck.

    Running about 16 minutes, this doco covers the multitude of stunts from conception through to post-production. The most interesting stunt covered is the superb vehicle chase and the complex planning that is involved in bringing what is essentially only a ten minute sequence to film.

Deleted Scenes

    10 minutes of trims and scenes that slowed the pace of the film down and added nothing to the story. These are not anamorphically presented.

Alternate Ending

    An alternate ending that needed to be changed. This ending is trite and sells the cast short.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   All versions of this DVD are essentially the same.


    Paycheck has all the elements of a thoroughly enjoyable action thriller. It possesses an interesting story, has very solid performances, and manages several exciting action scenes. The disc has a great looking and sounding transfer with a nice collection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Greg Morfoot (if interested here is my bio)
Friday, July 16, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 76cm Widescreen Flatron Television. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony HT-K215. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony HT-K215
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

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