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Payback movie review

Payback: Scumbag Procedural

In the first moments of Payback, our protagonist Porter (Mel Gibson) does everything but drown kittens and run over nuns on bicycles -- and that only because they don't cross his path. In true cinematic tradition, he is shown as a scumbag. Nobody has to tell us.

We are quickly shown how he is relieved of $70,000 of his ill-gotten gains and from then on we follow Porter as he sets out to retrieve that amount.

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Now, if you think that Old Mel is going to be a guy with moral principles, like Bernie in The Burglar who has lines he doesn't cross, you would be wrong. In the next couple of hours he alternatively blows up and coldly shoots anyone who gets in his way.

So what has this film got to offer? Well if you are interested in watching killers work, this could be of interest to you. If you find mindless, conscienceless shooting entertaining, then you'll find the time passes quickly. On the other hand, the high spot of this film is Pearl (Lucy Alexis Liu).

While Maria Bello gets to play a convincing whore-with-heart, Liu gets to play the SM Mistress of Pain. When Porter confronts a SM aficionado in her charge, Pearl is obviously enchanted by the situation and gleefully sets to work beating up the client on Porter's behalf. In fact, she has the best fun in the film, and is therefore the most fun to watch.

The word is that Gibson forced changes to the film in an effort to be more likeable, that seems likely since the film has the chopiness of too-many-cooks (in Hollywood is the too-many-chiefs?). As an object lesson to actors to keep their paws off it works, otherwise, its an unattractive film that probably would have been better served by an actor with the guts to be the bad guy.

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Due for Australian release March 4, 1999
See also: Mel Gibson also appears in Conspiracy Theory,
Lucy Alexis Liu also appears in Austin Powers II For credits and official site details, click here.
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Just the facts:

Title: Payback (1999)
Written by: based on the novel The Hunter) Donald E. Westlake (as Richard Stark), screenplay by Brian Helgeland & Terry Hayes
Directed by: Brian Helgeland 
Produced by: Mel Gibson, Bruce Davey, Stephen McEveety (executive)
Edited by: Kevin Stitt
Director of Photography: Ericson Core
running time: 101
rating MA

The Players: Mel Gibson ... Porter
Gregg Henry.... Val
Maria Bello.... Rosie
Deborah Unger.... Lynn Porter
David Paymer.... Stegman
Bill Duke.... Detective Hicks
Jack Conley.... Detective Leary
William Devane.... Carter
Kris Kristofferson.... Bronson
John Glover.... Phil
Lucy Alexis Liu.... Pearl
Official website: www.paybackmovie.com
For session times of current films, use the cinema listings on the Movie links page. For scheduled release dates, see the coming attractions section.
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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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: Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia : copyright © Festivale 1999 All rights reserved
Filed: Feb-1999 : Last updated: 1-Apr-1999 : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
Entire site refreshed: Dec 2008-Feb 2009 | Site URL transferred: Jan 2005 (previously www.festivale.webcentral.com.au)

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