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Payback (1999)



Average Rating: 5.8/10
Reviews Counted: 74
Fresh: 40 | Rotten: 34

Sadistic violence and rote humor saddle a predictable action premise.


Average Rating: 5.2/10
Critic Reviews: 21
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 11

Sadistic violence and rote humor saddle a predictable action premise.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 98,110

My Rating

Movie Info

Porter (Mel Gibson) is pulled into a heist by his old friend, Val (Brian De Palma regular, Gregg Henry). As they're stealing $130,000 in laundered drug money from Chinese Triads, no one is going to call the police. Everything goes smoothly until Porter's wife, Lynn (Deborah Kara Unger), shoots Porter in the back. After Val had shown Lynn a photo of Porter in the arms of another girl (Maria Bello), the two planned the double-cross together to pay off Val's mob debts so he could return to "The

Jul 27, 1999

Paramount Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (96) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (34) | DVD (26)

Demonstrates why Mel Gibson is a movie star: He can take mediocre material and through sheer willpower -- not to mention oodles of charm -- make it work.

November 6, 2002 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A solid enough action comedy, albeit one that had a lot of potential to be wittier and darker.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Calgary Movies
Calgary Movies

A tough, entertaining homage to the kind of gritty '70s crime film that long ago gave way to a slicker yet tamer form of action movie ... Both the studio's cut and Helgeland's cut work about equally well.

May 10, 2007 Full Review Source:

This is the seediest studio picture I've seen since TO LIVE OR DIE IN LA. Even the theater floor feels stickier while watching this thing unfold.

June 25, 2005 Full Review Source: Ain't It Cool Movie Reviews
Ain't It Cool Movie Reviews

Payback has its moments and its thrills, but the payoff just isn't there.

April 13, 2004 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Payback is just Die Hard: Without a Soul.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

The movie squanders its energy on morbid levels of grisly, kinky violence, much of it sexual.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

Both star and director seem to be more interested in playing off perceptions of Gibson's on-screen persona than in actually telling the story, which lurches along from one violent set piece to the next.

March 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

...tries to be a no-nonsense action thriller, but it's undermined by its own plot silliness and by the unruffled attitude of its main character.

April 8, 2001
Movie Metropolis

Strictly a Mel Gibson vehicle, and one that doesn't really know what to do with the star's easygoing, audience-pleasing charm.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Examiner

A mean-spirited cartoon beneath a thin veneer of faux-grit!

January 1, 2000
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Payback is not, in any way, an entertaining film.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

The thin story never generates any genuine excitement.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Payback

"Not the best thriller I have seen Mel in. But he always does a great job in any role he plays. Revenge flicks are a bit of a favorite of mine. But this one lacked a lot in being interesting. I thought the story was just OK. It wasn't exciting enough. No thrills here. Just a mediocre revenge flick that could have been better with a more developed story line."
October 5, 2012

Super Reviewer

OK can I just say firstly...Lucy Liu and her character, LOVE it! :D absolutely my kinda woman in every sense hehe Liu is soooo damn gorgeous. Right that's my little perversion out in the open and out of the way, yep I'm a fetish with it.

So apart from the delicious scenes with Liu what about the rest of the film? well its basically pretty darn good folks. In my view this is Gibson's last good film in an acting role, I also think its one of his best action thrillers too riding high alongside 'Lethal Weapon 1+2'.

There is a quite different directors cut of this film which is suppose to be more straight forward, I cannot comment on that as yet but personally I have always liked this film and see nothing wrong with it really. Sure its a little cliched and you always know Gibson will win in the end but he does get knocked around allot which is reasonably surprising for the good looking 'hero'.
Casting is great for all the characters here with a great slimy weaselly performance from Henry as 'Resnick', Paymer as the even more weaselly wet 'Stegman', Kristofferson is...well kinda as he always is and add some good backing in small roles from Bill Duke, John Glover and James Coburn, solid reliable casting there.

Violence is hard fast and totally enjoyable without there being that much blood, but you know what's happening, its adult only and it rocks. Thing is its all quite believeable too, its not just ridiculous over the top violence with no sense of realism, it all works well along with Gibson's little traps and setups.
I like the look of the film also, its almost in black and white, the picture is very bleak or washed out, kinda faded looking, shades of greys, blues, blacks and silver with not much else. Sounds odd but it sets the tone for the film whilst giving it some added class or distinction.

You can't go wrong here really, think 'Riggs' outta 'Lethal Weapon' only he's more badass and the series of events he's involved in are more sensible and darker.
April 7, 2012

Super Reviewer

I've first seen Payback way back when kit was first released, and I thought it was a pretty decent film. Looking back at it over ten years on, I still feel the same way. This is still an entertaining film and despite it not being perfect, it still a mindless revenge romp that delivers thrills. Mel Gibson is good here, but compared to his other roles, this one lack a bit. Still for the most part, Payback manages to be thrilling despite its imperfections. For me this was a decent film, and it good elements to make it watchable. Payback is good to watch if you have nothing else better to watch. The film has good action, a pretty good plot, but I felt it lacked something to really make it a memorable film that would stand out. Mel Gibson here, and though he's far from the Mad Max films and Braveheart; he still manages to make this film work well enough for it to be watchable. If you love revenge flicks, then this is your film, although not great, it's still worth watching. I view this film like a popcorn action flick that is simply mindless that doesn't make you think too much. The film is a decent enough viewing experience, but you can tell that it could have been so much better too. Mel Gibson is good here, and this is actually one of better films of the 90's, aside from Braveheart. Go in with an open mind like I did, and you may not be disappointed. Payback has its flaws, but is pretty thrilling a good enough film to watch on a Friday night.
March 30, 2012
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

This is in my opinion the only way to experience Payback. While there is a director's cut and it isn't all that bad, this is just a way better movie. Mel Gibson did something that few producers have been able to do; outclass the director and make a better movie as a result. The changes he made were the right thing to do. This cut is so much more developed, original and just flat out cool in this edition. I think this is actually one of my favorite Mel Gibson performances because it's so reserved, yet he still manages to have the edge that is his trademark. I think one of my favorite additions here is Kris Kristofferson; this movie needed a good villain and he plays one extremely well. The rest of the cast is great here too; William Devane and James Coburn have some amazing cameos. I also like that this movie plays around with the film noir genre instead of trying to make a carbon copy of one. It has stereotypes in there, but changes them around and pokes fun at some of the cliches. This movie is incredibly easy to enjoy and in my opinion is pretty air tight. I love the way they balance the extreme violence and uncompromising nature of Mel Gibson as Porter and somehow make him a likable character. I think part of it is due to the fact that he's just an honest guy trying to get back his 70,000 dollars back. I think anyone just looking for a straight-forward, flawless action movie couldn't find much better than Payback.
August 16, 2011

Super Reviewer

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