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Paycheck (2003)

Directed by John Woo

Starring: Ben Affleck, Aaron Eckhart, Uma Thurman, Paul Giamatti

John Woo, the director of Mission: Impossible II and Face/Off took on this movie based on the short story written by the late Philip K. Dick. The author, who passed away in 1982, also wrote short stories that have inspired The Adjustment Bureau, Minority Report and Blade Runner. The movie stars Ben Affleck, Aaron Eckhart, Uma Thurman, and Paul Giamatti.

When Jennings, a talented engineer, gets the job offer of a lifetime there isn’t much doubt about the decision. When he meets a beautiful researcher (Thurman) the choice is made. The catch of this incredible opportunity is that he’ll have no memory of the job when he’s done. When Jennings wakes up from this job he finds himself on the run from the FBI and a group of unknown killers. Now he has to rely on the clues he left behind for himself to reconstruct the past and save himself.

This movie was fun to watch and had an intelligent plot to go along with the action. The acting is good but not great, but the action makes up for a lot of that. While it’s not his best performance, Ben Affleck does a convincing job in his role. Paul Giamatti, Aaron Eckhart, and Uma Thurman are also decent in their roles.

Visually it’s an interesting movie. The special effects in the film and the rest of the visual work is also good. John Woo definitely makes his mark on any film he makes.

The critics were mixed on their reviews, but in the end they remained negative. Roger Ebert stated that he “enjoyed the movie”. He gave the film two stars (out of four), saying that the film “exploits [Philip K. Dick’s story] for its action and plot potential, but never really develops it.”

The downfall of this movie might be the lack of follow through on the premise of the film. With the idea behind the movie there was much more that could have been pulled from the story.

This is a fun movie and I can recommend it to anyone who likes a unique premise. If you enjoyed Minority Report this might be a good movie for you. I give this one 2.7 out of 5 stars.

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 119 minutes


  1. I agree that this film could have done a lot more with its premise, and it has certain weaknesses. But like you, I thought it was fun; seeing the little clues and mementos pay off is very satisfying.


    1. I’m not sure that it was that bad. At the time people tried to compare it to Minority Report which was a better film. When you take away that comparison it wasn’t that bad.


      1. I have always looked at that movie through the prism of having read the material of Phillip K Dick, so I am a bit more critical about it than most. I like John Woo flicks and as a popcorn movie, it is ok.


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