Payback - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Payback Reviews

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March 4, 2018
Based on the Richard Start novel "The Hunter," which was earlier filmed by John Boorman in the classic Lee Marvin picture "Point Blank," brings the story into the modern era with Mel Gibson in the lead. Gibson plays a crook who's double crossed by his partner and wife, and left for dead. However, Gibson is not dead and works his way up the "Syndicate" ladder to get back his money, as well as revenge upon those who crossed him. Although the story takes place in a contemporary setting, the film is wonderfully retro, featuring timeless business suits, old 70s looking cars, and more anachronistic rotary phones than you can shake a stick at. The story is a pretty straightforward revenge tale, but it's filled with so many colorful moments that it's pieces add up to a greater whole. One of my favorite moments is (SPOILER ALERT!) Gibson finding his ex-wife dead in bed and lying down next to her to recall the events leading up to his double-cross in a dreamlike flashback sequence, which manages to be both surreal and melancholy. The film is also filled with clever bits of action, such as when Gibson purposefully crashes a car head on during a heist, including a nice touch of close-up of a mouthguard hitting the ground as he get's out of the car to denote Gibson's premeditation of the crash. There's also a memorable toe smashing torture sequence that's not all that graphic, but effectively unsettling. "Payback" also has some great supporting performances by Maria Bello, David Paymer, Bill Duke, Deborah Kara Unger, John Glover, William Devane, Kris Kristofferson, and James Coburn. I was particularly taken with the underused Gregg Henry as Gibson's friend who double crosses him on a caper and steals his wife, setting off the events of the film. Lucy Liu (billed at Lucy Alexis Liu) is also quite memorable as a dominatrix/torturer friend/mistress of Henry's."Payback" came out at the peak of 1990s Quentin Tarantino ripoffs, but to lump this film in with that batch of imitators does not do it justice. "Payback" is a closer cousin to Don Siegel style of crime films (i.e. "The Killers" or "Charley Varrick") than to Tarantino. It's minus the pop culture references and has it's own unique dark sense of humor. The film is shot with a color palette of black and blues that make it nicely reminiscent of the black and white film noirs that it's referencing. And to be clear, this is the original theatrical version of the film I watched, which is supposed to be vastly different than the director's cut. Thirty percent of the film was re-shot when Brian Helgeland was replaced as director. The theatrical version is said to have had more humor and a generally more breezy tone. At the time this film was released, I was dubious of Gibson's tinkering, but since then Gibson has proven himself as a brilliant filmmaker, so I was less dubious this time around. Gibson years later co-write and produced a spiritual sequel to "Payback" with "Get the Gringo," in which Gibson plays another thief with a single name, which Gibson also narrates, and where his character at one point even says how he was once married, but his wife ran off with a former business associate. Overall, "Payback" is not in the same league as "Point Blank," but it does stand on it's own as a wonderfully retro crime film with an amazingly strong cast.
½ February 18, 2018
A fantastic movie, great acting, great performances and a grittiness level that is perfect for this genre of film.
½ February 8, 2018
As a film version of a book (Richard Stark's "The Hunter") this is much closer to the novel than the original movie (Lee Marvin's "Point Blank"). However, this still suffers from a lot of the same problems the original had. First, I wonder if there is a reason we can't call the main character Parker (Porter in this version, Walker in Marvin's)? Second, both films suffer from the idea that a protagonist has to have a "good side." The Parker of the books is violent, selfish, hard, and calculating. Unlike Porter, Parker isn't all that fazed by his wife's drug overdose and he certainly isn't there to save the girl.
That being said, most of this movie is pretty spot on. Even some of the dialogue is taken from the book. It's dark and gritty. The humor is mostly at the expense of others. The violence isn't really gratuitous (as some critics have accused) so much as it's to the point. Porter isn't there to monologue or impress. He's here to get his money, and that's it. He has no time for flashy shows of sentiment. He's all business all the time, even when it means killing fellow bad guys (face it, Porter is a bad guy). There was also a director's cut done that moves some things around, cuts out Kris Kristofferson, and changes the ending. Both are good and worth a viewing.
½ December 6, 2017
Great action/revenge movie
½ November 22, 2017
A Far More Mature Take On Previous Gun-Toting Characters Played By Gibson. He Was Totally Driven & Did A Supurb Performance. The Twists & Turns Added To The Popcorn Watchability & I Can See Any Father Reacting With Such Emotion & Didn't Believe It Was Over The Top. The 'Gimmie Back My Boy Bit' Pushes It Tho, But Close Enough..
Super Reviewer
October 20, 2017
A very average action thriller that lacks in the action department and brings nothing new to the table, Gibson plays only one of two characters he can play but plays it well, Very predictable and with the slow pace it never really catches fire and that's where this film fails most.
September 15, 2017
Maybe it was the studio reshoots that finally did the movie in, it's hard to say-but the opening scene certainly seems to take on a different character when you imagine it as an allegory for the Helgeland losing control of the final cut, his (at times clever) neo-noir betrayed by his partners desire for more money. Probably the best thing left in this otherwise DOA affair, then, is the not-so-subtle satire of Gibson's earlier work, the knock-off dirty cops from a bizarro "Lethal Weapon"-but aside from that wink to the audience, the movie does little to stop you from catching a 39 more winks in the middle of it.
September 8, 2017
Not predictable...A great action flick.
August 9, 2017
I'm not sure I'm the only who didn't like this movie, I thought it was to slow and boring and a cliched plot and I feel like this film was trying to be Tarantino
June 21, 2017
No more Mr Nice Guy :)
½ June 10, 2017
6/9/2017 (3): I really enjoyed this movie. The story and cast were very good. The "Straight Up" edition is garbage though!
March 13, 2017
This movie is the John Wick of the late 90's... nuff said.
½ January 18, 2017
First of all, "Payback" features Mel Gibson when he still was an action hero, the always wonderful Maria Bello, Lucy Liu as a sadomasochistic hooker and one of the final appearances of James fuckin' Coburn. Secondly, and most importantly, it's fast-paced, has some iconic scenes and will keep your blood pumping throughout; Brian Helgeland, like Porter, is not messing around. Also, to the writers' credit, the few more intimate scenes, such as Porter and Rosie at the diner, feel completely natural.
December 9, 2016
The Hunter, best representation of Parker that has ever been or ever will be. As I read the 28+ novels by Stark, i.e. Westlake, I always envision Gibson as Parker - Stratham and Marvin don't come close.
November 12, 2016
A movie that reminds us that Mel Gibson has indeed done a film as violent as a marvel movie, complete with characters that no one really cares about.
November 5, 2016
A kick-ass, wildly entertaining film. See it.
September 6, 2016
The best adaption of a Parker novel so far (although he is called "Porter" here) and a great Neo-Noir. This is one of Gibson's best roles as he's not playing the same old charming guy, instead being a not so nice guy, particularly for a protagonist. There are two versions of this movie and they are very different with a totally different third act which had a different cast of antagonists. Both versions are great and can be enjoyed as separate movies.
July 20, 2016
Worth a watch. One man on a mission...
May 8, 2016
loved this movie, it's really "payback time"!
½ February 28, 2016
This movie is literally in my top ten all time... everything about this movie just went together no matter how it came about... this has serious replay value in my opinion.
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