( Max score: 100 )
In a futuristic but familiar world, a high-tech engineer whose memory has been partially erased must use a group of unrelated objects, including a wire, a ticket stub and a bus token as clues to discover the truth about his previous identity, and collect a paycheck he had been awaiting. Based on the short story by science fiction author Phillip K. Dick.
Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) is a brilliant computer engineer hired for top-secret projects. After each job, Jennings' short-term memory is erased so he cannot recount any project information. Emerging from his latest assignment, a three-year contract with an eight-figure paycheck given to him by his longtime friend (Aaron Eckhart), Jennings is jolted when he is told that during the end of his assignment, he agreed to forfeit all payment. Jennings has no recourse-until he receives a mysterious envelope containing clues to his forgotten past. With the help of a beautiful scientist (Uma Thurman) he once loved but now cannot remember, Jennings races to solve the puzzle of his past...while a terrifying discovery waits in his future.
I have owned Paycheck on DVD for a number of years. I don't mind its over the top and unlikely story and fully appreciating that it really never takes itself too seriously. John Woo's patented directional style is on full display and the action provides plenty of mindless entertainment. Don't go looking for competent hitmen, realistically portrayed federal agents, typical scientist/engineer types, or deep characters. Instead you will find a bit of a contrived, follow the bread crumbs premise, along with several interesting but undeveloped characters, and a very decent cast that are wrapped up in a fairly entertaining sci-fi action thriller. If kept in the right perspective it has something viable to offer.
The rating is for intense action violence and some language.
Paycheck comes to Blu-ray featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.4 mbps.
This is an excellent video presentation that offers a measurable improvement over the standard definition DVD. It boasts refining detail and crisp definition that reveals plenty of fine minutia, and textural nuance during close-ups. Depth and dimension is appreciable during close-ups and mid level camera angles. Colors are rich and vibrant, with deep, beautifully rendered primaries (especially reds) that are eye catching without appearing unnatural. Fleshtones follow suit and appear lilfelike and delineated. Blacks and contrast are strong and dynamic in appearance which provides pop when onscreen with mixed content. Shadow detail is good but not definitively resolvable which leaves some darker scenes feeling less dimensional. I noticed during some of the brightly lit scenes that the video has an edgy (artificial) sharpness. I didn't see any obvious signs of ringing or halos around objects but I feel it was worth noting. Digital noise can be seen on the light colored background walls in the lobby at Allcom in the first scene when Mike (Affleck) arrives. I saw the same thing on the rear walls in the food court sequence. Debris/speckles and faint vertical lines are also visible on the print from time to time. Grain is present and its light unobtrusive texture appears natural. This isn't a perfect and pristine quality rendering however overall quality is excellent and this film has never looked better on home video.
I was impressed with the quality of this Dolby TrueHD sound mix. I felt that the DVD had a very decent and fairly dynamic soundtrack but this certainly offers a discernible improvement. This comes in the form of high level detail, defining clarity, and rich, room filling surround sound that doesn't disappoint. This is an active sound design that incorporates a vast number of sound effects that are intricately mixed to engage the listening position. Bass is robust and can sometimes be substantive in depth but never rises inappropriately in prominence within the soundfield. The delicate blend of John Powell's stirring music, discrete/ambient sounds, crystalline dialogue and invigorating bass is supremely enriching as it weaves an aurally stimulating pattern across the entire surround platform.
Paycheck is a fun, sci-fi popcorn flick that is best watched with your brain checked at the door. Its premise isn't new, but the story, over the top action sequences and good casting make it an enjoyable watch for genre fans. Its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Paramount features audio/video quality that easily surpasses any previous home video release. The bonus supplements are highlighted by two commentary tracks. The two remaining featurettes/deleted scenes are standard fare but are worth checking out. This is a worthy upgrade for fans. If you haven't seen it give it a rent prior to purchase.