I saw this movie because John Woo made it, and he’s delivered some good ones in the past (Face/Off, Mission Impossible II). Unfortunately, he’s also done Broken Arrow, and the film Paycheck is most like, Windtalkers; which was a great idea that didn’t play out.
And that’s Paycheck in a nutshell. Ben Affleck is a hot-shot scientist in the near future who “reverse engineers” products for rival companies. The catch is that each time Ben must have the time he spent working on the project erased from his memory. This isn’t much of a problem for the guy as the money is very good. The problem comes when Affleck comes out of a three year stint that was supposed to pay him upwards of eighty million dollars, but instead has no money and instead; nineteen clues he “left” himself before his memory was erased, that he now has to piece together.
This is a neat concept, and starts out strong, but halfway through it gets intensely routine and by the end it’s hard to care about any of it. I won’t divulge details of what Affleck works on, but this really was a great sci-fi idea; just in the hands of the wrong guy.
Suspension of Disbelief Scale: 8 (out of 10). They try to get a little bit of the physics right, but it’s clearly not their main concern.
Genre Grade: For Sci-Fi films, I give this no higher than a C.
Pantheon Percentile: 45. A very average uninspired movie in its execution. Points off for wasting such a great idea.