HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Unseen, The
Tonight She Comes
Chasing the Dragon
Into the Forest
Limehouse Golem, The
Frankenstein '80
Good Time
Bucket of Blood, A
Detroit
Hide and Seek
What Happened to Monday
River Wild, The
Veteran
Slumber Party '57
Juliette, or Key of Dreams
Summertime Killer
Sweet Virginia
Ben & Arthur
Your Name
Red Hot Shot, The
New World
Trick Baby
Weapons of Death
Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World, The
Kills on Wheels
Strait-Jacket
This Man is Dangerous
Burning Paradise
Away
Mistress of the Apes
   
 
Newest Articles
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
The Melville Mood: His Final Two Films on The Melville Collection Blu-ray
Always Agn├Ęs: 3 from The Varda Collection Blu-ray
Re: Possession of Vehicles - Killer Cars, Trucks and a Vampire Motorcycle
The Whicker Kicker: Whicker's World Vols 5&6 on DVD
The Empress, the Mermaid and the Princess Bride: Three 80s Fantasy Movies
   
 
  Payback Cash On DemandBuy this film here.
Year: 1999
Director: Brian Helgeland
Stars: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, David Paymer, Bill Duke, Deborah Kara Unger, John Glover, William Devane, Lucy Liu, Jack Conley, Kris Kristofferson, Mark Alfa, Kwame Amoaku, James Coburn, Freddy Rodriguez, Sally Kellerman
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Porter (Mel Gibson) has a score to settle, but first he has to get back on his feet. Walking through the city streets he decides the first thing he needs is money, so lifts the cash out of a homeless man's begging funds, and the next thing he needs is a meal, so he goes to a diner and uses the cash for that. It's not enough, but he has some ability as a pickpocket, so steals a wallet and goes on a spending spree, generating a few hundred dollars and gaining a revolver at the pawnbroker's, then treats himself to a slap up meal just as the credit cards are cancelled. Now he has to see about the real money, and heads over to an old acquaintance: junkie Lynn (Deborah Kara Unger), who happens to be his wife, his estranged wife, it is safe to say.

Rarely was a movie messed around with so much in post-production than Payback, another adaptation of the Donald E. Westlake thriller that John Boorman's Point Blank was based on. It's a brave actor who follows in Lee Marvin's footsteps, especially in the same role in the same story, but Gibson felt he was up to the task and hired hot screenwriter Brian Helgeland, fresh off Oscar-winner L.A. Confidential, to direct. All was going well and the shoot was completed, then the footage edited, then the director fired, then the reshoots commenced - wait, what? That's right, Mel was unhappy with what Helgeland had dreamt up and felt he could improve on it, so around a third of the original cut was replaced.

Was Gibson correct to stamp his authority on a project that he believed he could refashion in a style that showed him to a better advantage? Once the Director's Cut was released around five years later and people could see what Helgeland had had in mind, the answer was probably not, as the Gibson version was a somewhat flavourless action thriller that seemed a lot milder the further it went on, belying how nasty not merely the source novel was, but also the original incarnation. Although we lost Kris Kristofferson, who was drafted in to play the Mr Big role as the head of The Outfit, we did get a leaner, meaner experience that played to Gibson's strengths as a not entirely trustworthy hero; he had toned this down.

By recruiting his old Mad Max 2 screenwriter Terry Hayes, presumably he thought he could recapture some of that old magic, but the fact remained Westlake's plotting was well served by the Helgeland, if not as well as Boorman's vision which took an almost mystical approach to wrapping things up; here we simply had a note of hope amidst Gibson's usual bloodstained martyrdom. Neither Payback was going to be a classic in the same way, though Point Blank could justifiably be termed a cult classic as well, while its remake did pick up fans, it was more to do with seeing Gibson in badass mode which always went down benevolently with his ever-forgiving fans. In truth, much of what was entertaining was in that plotting and seeing how Porter (not Parker, as Westlake called the anti-hero) extricated himself from sticky situations.

All the while landing others in trouble they would have to clean up themselves, assuming they were still alive at the end of his spree. Tussling with Chinese gangsters, The Outfit which ran organised crime like a respectable business (only with murder, when absolutely necessary), and Gregg Henry as Val Resnick, the ex-partner, ex-best friend, and downright lowdown scoundrel who left Porter for dead, then took his wife and his share of a heist they had perpetrated, this was all very well, but it was the self-consciously stylish trappings that marked this out as a move towards respectability for a deeply unrespectable source, and that tended to jar. Lucy Liu had fun as a dominatrix who beats up Val more than Porter does, and there were plenty of valuable character actors in support, yet that gloss spoke to the real reason Gibson cleaned up Payback, which was he wanted to be a bad guy who was not really all that evil when it came down to it, he only visited his vengeance on those who deserved it, and there was a hypocrisy there. Still, it was pleasing to see Porter demand what seems like such a paltry sum as recompense that nobody believes he doesn't want more. Music by Chris Boardman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 296 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Robin Askwith
Mark Wahlberg
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
Paul Shrimpton
  Rachel Franke
Jason Cook
Darren Jones
Keith Rockmael
   

 

Last Updated: