This film is different then most Dick adaptations because of the heart it has. Relationships from the past and the future are what keep the film interesting, and this is something even Minority Report lacked. We’re introduced to Affleck as Michael Jennings, a reverse engineer. Working to find out how technology works, by taking current models apart, it’s interesting because people in this Job* actually do this type of engineering. Phillip K. Dick always delivers on his stories and once again he was right on with the twist as there is a 6th Day likeness in how Michael’s memories are erased. Soon Michael has taken on a job that’s a lot more then it seems and 2 years later he’s on a track to find out why he’s screwed himself. It’s somewhat comedic, but that’s how all of Dick’s stories start out. They’re interesting and grab you in only to fall for the characters and get more involved in the story that unfolds. It’s a great story, with great excitement and what carries it is a great cast.
For a successful film that people care about, it has to be a down to earth cast that people relate to. In this case in order to suspend belief, you need a real relationship that carries the film. That’s when Uma Thurman and Affleck come in; finally in a film together, the chemistry between the two actually feels like reality. Uma steps up from her Kill Bill badass role to be a smart witty scientist. She has the friendly appeal of the girl next door you can play football with, but also holds a feminine appeal that’s the type of girl you would wish to marry. She pulls the film as an inspiration for Affleck to continue, she’s the reason he continues, he believes his past. He wants to work for the future that they have together, and this is always powerful because something is in jeopardy. You want them to work out, even though he doesn’t remember her that well. On the other half you have Ben, who audiences don’t consider an action hero. Though in this role he shows a wide variety of emotion, from love struck, to witty, and even anger. The role is no superhero like Daredevil, but he is a hero in what he does to save the world. It’s a role that any of us could play if we had the information he did. So you feel at home with his role and he fits in with his interactions with other characters, I feel this may be Ben’s best role out of a Kevin Smith universe. Aaron Eckhart steps in as the villain, the man who simply wants control of business, but doesn’t realize how his greed will end his business. His role is something common in Dick stories, the best friend/associate that hates for business to ruin the relationship but does what needs to be done. He does well for the role as a friendly man, who shows somewhat anger, but he doesn’t really give a full role. He doesn’t appear bad, he seems kind of there, like everything will work out in his favor, even though his character doesn’t even appear to think that way. Eckhart has the wrong type of motivation and cuts short of a roll that could have been as large as Ben’s. Besides that, the main relationship between Affleck and Thurman runs the film and adds the human feel.
John Woo is well known for action films he directs. Though like Ang Lee it’s always a fault to have breakneck action and heart in the film at the same time. With this film Woo left the heart to Dick and concentrated on the imagery. The cinematography is great in the film in how for the action sequences it doesn’t rely on the computers and simply films everything. The shots are simply in the scenes that don’t require too much, but a common theme of the shots are establishing. Always panning to reveal something unseen before, as the characters are always learning or remembering something, it helps put the audience in the point of view. Extremely fast editing put a quick pace on the film as if the world is going to end at the end of the day even though it’s years later, but it’s great for the type of information that needs to be introduced in a small amount of time. The film holds up on all aspects as Woo does a wonderful job with directing.
For once a good balance of action and heart, the film actually carries a good story and is a good adaptation better than Imposter and in the ranks with Minority Report. Affleck has created an everyman for the future, and stepped up his ranks and proved himself as an action star. Paycheck is a film that is a great contribution to variance in the action film formula and proves that a genre can be pushed to new levels.