In Paycheck, the amount offered to ace reverse-engineer Michael Jennings (Affleck) to effect one of his speciality semi-legal high-tech rip-offs is a paltry $93m and a memory wipe. You could hardly make a John Woo sci-fi thriller for that. Well, you just might if you concentrated the action in one Bond-like mega-set and rationed the contra-flow car chases, fireballs and terminus getaways. In his adaptation of Philip K Dick's 1953 short story about a machine that can read the future, Woo choreographs all the aforementioned with his customary muscular élan, but there's a sense of treading water about this movie. Further, the self-referential tropes - the face-off gun duels, slo-mo bullet trajectories and the like - seem less like cinematic in-jokes than nervous insurance policies, delivered with an absence of humour. Yet for all the inevitable inconsistencies and implausibilities of the script, this ain't all bad. The design is good; Affleck is at his least smug and nauseating. And Thurman, as the kick-boxing biologist lover who helps fend off both corporate assassins and FBI, wields the meanest handbag since Jack Lemmon.
Cast and crew
Michael C Hall