During the DVD documentaries and commentaries included in this version of Payback, director Brian Helgeland states that he can now appreciate the theatrical, audience-friendly cut created from his movie. At the time he wrote and directed Payback, his commentary reveals that with the 1970's, gritty, crime-drama tableau, the unhappy ending was in keeping with the outcomes of so many of the popular films of that period. See more »
When Porter sits on the sidewalk to wait for Rosie, the blue backpack is about a foot behind him. Although Porter later says "Backpack, backpack," and Rosie replies, "Got it," when Rosie first comes around the car, the backpack is nowhere to be seen. See more »
Oh, I bet you got a lot of questions rattling around in your head.
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Before studio execs and Mel Gibson got all uppity with Brian Helgeland, Payback was a darker, meaner film. But after an apparently poor test screening in 1997(honestly, what IS the point of these?) they put Payback on hold for over a year so Mel could do Lethal Weapon 4 before going back for some re-shoots, with a new director, to make the film happier.
So they approved a script of a dark, moody revenge thriller, green-lighted it for production and changed their minds to make it lighter because a ragtag audience didn't understand/like it? Man, Hollywood is one weird town.
The resulting film, which was eventually released in 1999, seemed a bit tacked together. There were scenes that just seemed out of place and irregular. It was obvious that any scene actually shot back in 1997 was shot on location and any scene shot for the 1999 cut was just shot in the generic 'street set' on the Warner back-lot. Despite all of this, Payback was still a fun film that failed to go all the way with it's concept.
The new DC is a superior version, no doubt and is about 33% different. There are new scenes and odds and ends through out the running time and the last act is completely different. Kris Kristoffersen is gone and replaced by Sally Kellerman (voice only, Bronson is never seen). James Coburn and John Glover also have smaller roles. The narration from Porter is gone as well as the blue tint to most of the film. Now most scenes are just lit as normal without any post-production filtering.
There is also a new musical score. The jazzy feel to the opening scenes is still there but through-out the rest of the film the score is more atmospheric and understated. Both are as good as each and fit the differing tones, so there's no better of the two.
It does end a bit abruptly and without any truly satisfying conclusion. I guess this is what annoyed test audiences. But a disgruntled audience should not be a decision-making committee when it comes to making movies.
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