Payback Reviews

  • Feb 05, 2020

    One of Gibson's best movies, dark and comic, loaded with over-the-top violence, and a terrific supporting performance from Gregg Henry. Studio version is slightly less entertaining than the director's cut, but it doesn't really change the tone of the film. Top of the line cast makes this a must see for Gibson fans, but not for the squeamish.

    One of Gibson's best movies, dark and comic, loaded with over-the-top violence, and a terrific supporting performance from Gregg Henry. Studio version is slightly less entertaining than the director's cut, but it doesn't really change the tone of the film. Top of the line cast makes this a must see for Gibson fans, but not for the squeamish.

  • Jan 23, 2020

    A pretty cool noir/gritty 70s action throwback. Gibson is great in it, but ultimately it squanders its good will. It's entertaining enough, but it's rather forgettable...

    A pretty cool noir/gritty 70s action throwback. Gibson is great in it, but ultimately it squanders its good will. It's entertaining enough, but it's rather forgettable...

  • Oct 20, 2019

    It's not incredibly memorable but it's a fun noir-ish throwback. Gibson does what he does (and would go on to do at least a few times more in the future) very well. It's old-school tough guy stuff and it's entertaining. Special trivia: watch for Lucy Liu's original SAG member name: Lucy Alexis Liu.

    It's not incredibly memorable but it's a fun noir-ish throwback. Gibson does what he does (and would go on to do at least a few times more in the future) very well. It's old-school tough guy stuff and it's entertaining. Special trivia: watch for Lucy Liu's original SAG member name: Lucy Alexis Liu.

  • Mar 04, 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.

    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.

  • Feb 18, 2018

    A fantastic movie, great acting, great performances and a grittiness level that is perfect for this genre of film.

    A fantastic movie, great acting, great performances and a grittiness level that is perfect for this genre of film.

  • Feb 08, 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.

    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.

  • Dec 06, 2017

    Great action/revenge movie

    Great action/revenge movie

  • Sep 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.

    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.

  • Sep 08, 2017

    Not predictable...A great action flick.

    Not predictable...A great action flick.

  • Aug 09, 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

    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