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Paycheck (2003)

PG-13  |   |  Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi  |  25 December 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 86,220 users   Metascore: 43/100
Reviews: 340 user | 194 critic | 34 from Metacritic.com

What seemed like a breezy idea for an engineer to net him millions of dollars, leaves him on the run for his life and piecing together why he's being chased.



(short story), (screenplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rita Dunne
Christopher Kennedy ...
Agent Fuman
Agent Mitchell
Jude - Guard


Michael Jennings is a reverse engineer and what he does is technical jobs for certain companies and as soon as he is done, his memory of the work he has done is wiped out. Now the longest he has been contracted is 2 months. But now billionaire, James Rethrick offers him a job that would last 2 years, maybe 3, and he promises that he will probably earn 8 figures. Michael agrees. Before beginning he turns in all of his personal effects. And when the job is done, his memory is erased and he learns he made over 90 million dollars over the three years. When he goes to claim it and his personal effects, he discovers that prior to the erasure of his memory he waived his rights to the money he earned and that the items that were given to him were not the ones he gave when he began. Later he is arrested by the FBI who say that he committed some act of treason and murder. It's while he is in custody that he escapes using some the items that he was given. He later meets with a friend who gives ... Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The future depends on a past he was paid to forget. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense action violence and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

25 December 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El pago  »

Box Office


$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$13,462,374 (USA) (26 December 2003)


$2,141,356 (Japan) (2 April 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Woo:  [reflections]  When Jennings meets with the Rachel-Double in the Cafe, he sees her in the silver top of a sugar pot. See more »


During the fight in the mall, when Jennings is kicked through a window, we see the envelope and it looks flat. Yet moments later, he takes out the round container of hairspray. See more »


[first lines]
Holographic Woman: It's time to wake up... and get a life. We live in a 3-dimensional world. Until now, the world of computing has been a flat world, consisting of 2-dimensional imagery. Now, through the use of exclusive breakthrough technology, ARC has made it possible for you to get a life. A-Life, where we can work and play in a lifelike world of 3-dimensional reality. A-Life, the living monitor.
See more »


Minute Waltz in D Flat Major Op. 64 No. 1
by Frédéric Chopin
Performed by Lincoln Mayorga
Courtesy of Townhall Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

James Dwan's Paycheck Review
28 January 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Set in the near future Ben Affleck stars as Michael Jennings a 'reverse engineer' who hacks into new electronic technologies for rival companies to duplicate. To protect his client's confidentiality Jennings agrees to have his memory erased, but after a highly paid top-secret assignment for the shady James Rethrick (Aaron Eckhart), Jennings is awoken to discover that he has forfeited his paycheck. In return he receives an envelope of seemingly meaningless items, which may well later become integral to his survival. Jennings must discover what he has been working on in the past two years before his memory was erased, and why he's been accused of murder, but time is not on his side, and he must piece together the clues he left for himself before the Feds or his former employer catch up with him.

Paycheck starts promisingly as an intelligent story with intriguing fast-paced action, but unfortunately the chase becomes relentless and the action tedious, as the characters remain underdeveloped and the script underwritten. Based on the work of sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick, Paycheck doesn't live up to other cinematic adaptations of his works such as Blade Runner or Total Recall, and Dick's warped and paranoid futuristic world is unrealised in John Woo's under-designed future. This film is ultimately a disappointment which falls short of the intriguing story promised by its trailer, but nevertheless it is a better than Affleck's and Woo's respective disappointments with their previous projects Gigli and Windtalkers. On the other hand Uma Thurman has taken a backward step after her success with Kill Bill by playing such as diminutive role as Rachel the 'plant biologist,' even if that is an ass-kicking bitch of a plant biologist.

This film is at times completely unoriginal, borrowing and in some cases completely ripping off other recent films such as Memento, Minority Report and Die Another Day. Paycheck is ultimately rescued by its chase scene into which Woo crams cars, motorbikes, helicopters and a few well placed discarded pipes, topped off with a few explosions Woo shows us why he's still one of the best action directors and although this film isn't bad enough to demand your money back its not one to remember either.


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