Porter (Gibson) is the sort of guy who'll steal the notes from a blind beggar. Ripped off in a heist and left for dead by his wife and best friend, he's not about to take such treachery lying down. Director/co-writer Helgeland had a hand in LA Confidential, so there's a certain amount of pedigree here (the source novel is Richard Stark's The Hunter, previously filmed by John Boorman as Point Blank). Helgeland also co-scripted Mel Gibson's Conspiracy Theory, a paranoia thriller in the 1970s mode - but with a happy ending. Though there are no explicit date references, Payback is styled as a '70s movie manqué: dial phones and chunky automobiles; desaturated colour palette; funky soul/jazz score. The conceit even extends to the supporting roles, with such veterans as Kristofferson, Devane and Coburn representing 'the Outfit'. Sadly, it doesn't have the courage of its convictions. Where even a fair-to-middling '70s thriller like Hustle took its nihilism straight, this feels like a put-on.