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
When Michael Jennings looks carefully at the Albert Einstein stamps through a magnifying glass, in one of the stamps Einstein has a squared eye, formed by six little black squares (the newspaper pages). Later, when viewing the stamps through the microscope, the eye is rounded, with six white squares inside. See more »
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some clever plotting done in by man-on-the-run cliches
Though futuristic in look and tone, John Woo's `Paycheck' is really a throwback to that oldie about the man who wakes up one day as an amnesiac only to find himself being pursued by the authorities for a crime he may or may not have committed (just about every other Hitchcock film seemed to be built on this premise to one extent or another). The difference is that Michael Jennings is an amnesiac by choice, a brilliant engineer and scientist whose job it is to develop top-secret inventions for hi tech corporations. Once he's delivered the goods, he allows his memory to be erased thereby rendering him innocuous as a security threat - in exchange for the lucrative paychecks the companies offer him.
Yet another of the many recent adaptations of a Phillip Dick story, `Paycheck' begins in the present day, a strange choice on the part of the filmmakers actually, for in this film's view of 2004, the technology for memory erasure seems to be in full swing and widely accepted (perhaps the producers didn't want to have to deal with the expense or bother of creating futuristic designs for their sets and costumes). The majority of the story, however, takes place in 2007, after Jennings `wakes up' from a three-year stint working on a secret project about which he can remember nothing. The trouble is that things haven't quite worked out the way Jennings planned as he finds himself the quarry of both the FBI and the organization for which he was working. Of course, Jennings doesn't know why. As is customary with films of this type, we uncover the clues and piece together the picture right along with the increasingly more enlightened main character.
It's that piecing together that is the sole factor of interest in `Paycheck,' for Dick is clearly a writer with a fertile imagination and a gift for mind-bending storytelling. When the film sticks to unraveling its plot complications, it is generally sharp, intriguing and thought-provoking. Too often, though, the film degenerates into a collection of man-on-the-run, action movie clichés. Although the special effects are occasionally impressive, the far-too-frequent chase sequences defy all logic and believability. In fact, a number of scenes actually elicit a few unwanted giggles, so ludicrous and over-the-top are the setup and execution. Director Woo, past master of action spectaculars, is clearly working on autopilot in this film.
There isn't much to say about the acting, either. Although Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman - as the woman Jennings fell in love with during the three years, but whom he can no longer remember - do their best with the characters assigned to them, neither is given much chance to expand beyond the stereotypical confines of their respective roles.
When it comes to all those involved in this film, I suspect that Jennings isn't the only one here working solely for the paycheck.
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