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Payback (1999)

Directed by Brian Helgeland

Starring: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello

Payback is the third incarnation of The Hunter by author Donald E. Westlake. The story was originally written in 1962 and has been followed by 1967, 1997, and 1999 film versions. This time it was done by director Brian Helgeland, more often known for his work as a screenwriter. His other works include L.A. Confidential, Robin Hood, and Mystic River. This film has a great cast including Mel Gibson (Braveheart), Maria Bello (A History of Violence), and Gregg Henry (The Black Dahlia).

Porter (Gibson) isn’t a man to be deterred from his revenge. When his wife and friend (Henry) set him up and leave him for dead they made the mistake of not finishing the job. Now Porter is back in action looking for his money. With some help from an old friend (Bello), Porter looks for the person who will make sure he gets his money back. He’ll stop at nothing to get payback.

Sometimes I love a good shooter, something dark and gritty, but with just a little side of dark humor mixed in. This is that kind of movie. The story is fun and intense all at once, with a lot of action. The dialogue also avoids becoming too overdone, making sure that the action does the talking. There are also a few turns and twists that make this more than just an action film.

The acting in this one is pretty good. In addition to nice performances by Gibson, Bello, and Henry, the film has a large cast of good actors. I think my favorite performance in the movie comes from Henry, his character is immediately unlikable and really sets the tone for the whole story.

The rest of the film is nicely done. I think the only major flaw was the somewhat quick way a few of the plot points are resolved. I’m not talking about a lack of suspense or a clear resolution. I think it might have been nice to play with the major characters a bit more to make the story feel more fully developed.

This is a good movie with a lot to offer. In addition to the main characters, the movie features a number of other familiar faces including Lucy Liu and Kris Kristofferson. If you’re a fan of a good crime movie or action flick this is probably one you should see. I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating: R

Running Time: 100 minutes


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