Runtime: 1hr 49min
Director: Brian Helgeland ( A Knight’s Tale, 42 )
Writers: Donald E. Westlake ( The Stepfather Series, Parker ), Brian Helgeland ( Robin Hood, Man on Fire, Assassins )
Cinematography: Ericson Core ( The Fast and the Furious, Invincible, Point Break )
Music: Chris Boardman ( The Color Purple, Waterworld )
Producers: Bruce Davey ( Hacksaw Ridge, Braveheart ), Stephen McEveety ( We Were Soldiers )
Starring: Mel Gibson ( Braveheart, Leathal Weapon, The Patriot ), Gregg Henry ( The Following ), Maria Bello ( Coyote Ugly, A History of Violence ), Kris Kristofferson ( Blade Series ), Lucy Liu ( Kill Bill, Charlie’s Angels ), James Coburn ( Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape )
You don’t need much more than this clip to understand what this movie is all about.
Payback is a remake of the 1967 film Point Blank which I have never seen. Both films are based on a novel written by Donald E. Westlake called The Hunter. Payback is a straightforward revenge style, shoot em up film with a fantastic cast and a countless number of great one-liners that you will find yourself quoting days after the movie is complete. While the plot may have its holes here and there, the action in the movie is so fast paced that you really do not notice them until after the movie is over. That is not saying that Payback is poorly written but simply, once all of the adrenaline has worn off do not expect excitement to remain.
This movie is about an angry, double-crossed thief, Porter (Mel Gibson), whose ex-wife and ex-partner Val Resnick (Gregg Henry) secretly work for a mysterious group called the Outfit. The couple shoots and robs Porter of his seventy thousand dollars and then they leave him for dead. After he is recovered, he is out for revenge with his main goal being that he wants his money back. Yes, that’s right, we are rooting for the bad guy in this one. In fact, the movie poster itself warns audience to GET READY TO ROOT FOR THE BAD GUY. Porter is a rough and tough guy who will not be denied what he wants no matter what he has to do to get it. Whether it be assaulting and killing adversaries, stealing from the homeless, or knocking his ex-wife out with her own front door, Porter will not be denied his retribution. So, if this man sounds like jerk, that is exactly what the director (Brian Helgeland) wants. However if you ask me, calling Porter the bad guy is a little misleading, considering the type of people he’s up against are employed by the Outfit whose head honcho is Bronson (Kris Kristofferson).
Porter, whose full name we actually never come to know, works his way through the crime syndicate one man at a time meeting new rogues along the way. By far, my favorite rogue in the movie is James Coburn’s character Fairfax, as he easily steals every single scene he is in.
Up until this point in the movie the action has been really fast paced and upbeat, that is until a romantic element is introduced, his one and only ally is a prostitute named Rosie (Maria Bello). We have had nothing but a blue collar gangster movie so far with a couple of great shootout scenes until this one romantic scene with Bello and Gibson. There seems to be no spark of any kind between the two. Gibson almost looks disinterested in the whole scene and the dialogue between the two was horrible. I feel like this one scene really hurts the movie as it adds nothing to the plot development.
Overall though, I really did enjoy this movie. I liked how I knew what I was getting from the start of the movie and it never stopped. I also liked how the lead character is unapologetically a jerk but as a viewer I still wanted to root for him. The movie does have a cool soundtrack and offers up some great one-liners that I’m still quoting. Even though it is not an original film, the movie still brought plenty of attitude and style of its own.
I am going to give Payback a 72%