Paycheck

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Paycheck Movie Poster Image
This movie just sags, even in the action scenes.
  • PG-13
  • 2003
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Strong female character.

Violence

Action violence, guns, explosions. Characters in peril.

Sex

Mild sexual situations.

Language

Some strong language.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking and smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has extended action violence with guns, chases, kickboxing, explosions, and character deaths. Characters use strong language, smoke, and drink, and there are mild sexual situations.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjvkajun1 April 9, 2008

Good for renting

Not a bad movie. Sci-fi Bourne Identity type of movie. Has some philosophical and moral implications. Makes a statement. Fun movie.
Parent of a 10 and 13 year old Written byLauraMac June 13, 2010

Fun action flick, with some interesting ideas

smart sci-fi, explores the role of memory in who we are, and also tackles free will. I thought the action was very fun, and loved waiting to see how he was goi... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byshopgirl April 9, 2008

Amazing!!! Very witty!

The plot was amazing! It keeps you on your toes, yet it is funny and feel good movie!!!
Kid, 11 years old April 2, 2009

another masterpiece from jhon woo

commonsensemedia what are you thinking this is ine of the best thrillers ever it's exciting and awesome the film's plot interresting exciting and stra... Continue reading

What's the story?

In PAYCHECK, Ben Affleck plays Michael Jennings, a brilliant engineer. In two months, he takes apart a revolutionary project for its competitor and makes it all but obsolete. Then the client writes him a big check, his friend Shorty (Paul Giamatti) zaps out his memory of the last eight weeks, and Michael is off to make the kind of memories he likes to keep, all of which seems fine to him. When Shorty tells him to think about stopping, Michael says, "My memories are basically highlights. The stuff you erase doesn't matter." Cue evil mogul Rethrick (Aaron Eckhart), who offers Michael a three-year project. Then cut to three years later. Michael's memory is gone, and so is the $90 million he was supposed to be paid. All he has is a manila envelope with a bunch of mundane items -- hairspray, a fortune from a fortune cookie, a pack of cigarettes, a paperclip, a matchbook. He knows it was a message he sent to himself before his memory was wiped. But what does it mean? And will he ever remember his relationship with a beautiful biologist (Uma Thurman)?

Is it any good?

We can stand it when a thriller requires some suspension of disbelief, but the boredom of this would-be thriller is unforgivable. The movie just sags, even in the action scenes. Without spoiling what little suspense there is, all I can say is that the big "reveal" removes any sense of narrative tension by making the outcome all but inevitable. Even Woo's trademarks, the fluttering birds and the two-gun stand-off, feel perfunctory.

Scientists will discover a way to bend the laws of time before anyone remembers that a movie about bending the laws of time has to have some way of handling the problem of determinism versus free will that is if not plausible then at least consistent. The idea (from Blade Runner's Philip K. Dick) of Paycheck is an intriguing one -- a super-smart computer whiz who trades not only his intellect but also his memory for big bucks. Even on one of his good days, this set-up would have been a challenge for director John Woo, whose stylish staging has turned saggy scripts into highly watchable films. But Woo seems to have taken a hit from that memory-eraser.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether there are memories they would like to or be willing to erase. If you, like Michael, wanted to make sure that someone really knew you, what question would you ask?

Movie details

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