Porter is bad, but his neighbours are worse. Street-wise and tough, an ex-marine, he is betrayed by a one-time partner, and shot in the back by his junkie wife. He survives and returns, looking to recover his share from the robbery of an Asian crime gang. The money has passed into the hands of "the Outfit", a slick gangster organisation that runs the city. He has to make his way through a world populated by heroin dealers, prostitutes, sado-masochists, gunmen and crooked cops, a place where torture is a way of life. His only friend is a former employer, a prostitute, and her loyalty is in question, given she now works for the Outfit. He makes good early progress, but then falls into the hands of Fairfax, the crime boss.Written by
"I think tonally this is one of the scenes that got me into a little bit of trouble," Helgeland says as Pearl (Lucy Liu) beats up Val. "Tonally, I think it confused the studio." See more »
When Porter and Val smash their car into the Chows' car to rob them, Porter's head snaps forward from the crash, while Val's head doesn't. See more »
GSW: that's what the hospitals call it: gunshot wound. Doctor has to report it to the police. That makes it hard for guys in my line to get what I call, quality health care.
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Director Brian Helgeland's cut was significantly changed by producer/star Mel Gibson before release and was 15 minutes shorter than the final version. Here are some of the differences to Gibson's highly publicized re-shoot version of the film that was released into the theaters.
No voiceover of Porter
The opening shot of Porter in the doctor's office is not in Helgeland's cut. The film begins with Porter on the bridge returning to the city. Brian's cut doesn't suggest the double-cross until we see the flashback.
A more harsh exchange when Porter visits Rosie (Maria Bello) for the first time.
Odds and ends with Val Resnick (Gregg Henry) throughout the film. Includes a curbside threat to the David Paymer character and a funny scene calling Pearl (Lucy Liu) on the phone.
A small exchange between Porter and the Asian gang.
When Val breaks in and beats up Rosie, Porter the dog gets shots in the head and remains dead. In Mel's cut, the dog lives.
The two versions of the film begin to change greatly when Porter confronts Fairfax (James Coburn). The dialog is different and the outcome of the scene is changed.
Bronson the Outfit boss is played by Sally Kellerman rather than Kris Kristoffersen. She's never seen in the film, instead interacting with Porter over speakerphones. When Porter begins to kill her associates, the boss almost immediately gives in to Porter's demands. In Mel's cut, the boss was a bigger character and provided a bigger climax. All the boss's son and torture scenes are not in Brian's cut of the movie.
The climax of the film takes place on a mass transit platform. Porter arranges to pick up his cut of the money, but the boss dispatches hit men to stop him. He gets the money, but is shot in the chest. Stumbling out of the station, he shoots a couple of men in a car. Porter begins to die. Rosie finds him and slaps him back to life. Porter suggests a doctor he knows can patch him up. The final shot is of the two driving out of town.
Yes - Payback & Point Blank (1967) are very similar. But there is a very good reason for that. Both films are based on the novel 'The Hunter' by Richard Stark, a pseudonym for Donald E Westlake.
The films share several character names such as Brewster, Carter, Stegman and Fairfax and similar plots. In both cases the anti-hero Porter (or Walker) is trying to recover a sum of money after being double-crossed.
Now, I am a huge fan of Point Blank. It takes a relatively simple plot and makes a bit of cinematic poetry out of it. And if I was forced to compare Lee Marvin and Mel Gibson's performances, then I'm sorry but Gibson would lose big time. However, Payback is a much better film than I thought it would be. There are sufficient differences to make the story interesting and though it is told in a much more straightforward and, dare I say, 'safe' way than Point Blank, it is a very well made film and tells a compelling story well. And it's nice to see Gibson return to a somewhat morally ambiguous character a la Mad Max.
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