Paycheck (2003)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Aaron Eckhart
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes

The notoriety surrounding infamous Hong Kong director John Woo has dies down a little, as the filmmaker has noticeably slowed down his output. While still very active as a producer of movies, he takes the director's seat much more infrequently than before. While already 6 years old, "Paycheck" was, in fact, the last of his Hollywood films so far. Paramount Home Entertainment has now prepared a Blu-Ray version of the movie starring Ben Affleck in the lead, and I was eager to revisit the movie.

In this thriller gunplay has taken the backseat a bit – but only a bit, really – and made room for a more facetted plot with deeper characters. Based on a short story by Philip Dick – who also wrote the short story for 'Minority Report' – 'Paycheck' is the slightly futuristic story in which a brilliant engineer (Ben Affleck) is essentially selling his skills to companies by the month to work on highly classified projects. To avoid corporate theft, by the end of each project his memory is erased to make sure nothing is being disclosed, and he is picking up a big fat paycheck. After doing the biggest job in his career however, something odd is going on. Not only is his payday worthless – supposedly devalued upon his own request, which of course, he can't remember – but what's more is that suddenly the FBI is hot on his heels. Certain people actually try to kill him!

A race ensues as Michael Jennings is trying to figure out what exactly it is that he has been working on for the past three years. His only help comes from an envelope with strange items he has never seen before…

Paramount Home Entertainment is launching 'Paycheck' onto Blu-Ray every bit as impressively as they did on DVD. Here we have a 1080p high definition transfer that is making the best of both the movie and the format itself. Incredibly detailed, the transfer revels in its high definition and renders an image that is stunning to behold. The sharp edges and overall look of the film has a wonderful presence that make you forget you are actually watching a video transfer. The transfer itself is free of any blemishes and defects that could possibly distract from the experience and with its bold color reproduction, the movie ignites the screen at times, or bathes it in cool blues to underscore the emotional isolation of our characters. The deep black levels firmly root the image and give it notable depth, while making sure to render shadows with the proper detail they deserve.

A powerful Dolby Digital TrueHD audio track that is an exact reproduction of the original master audio track, is included on this release, giving your home theater a nice work out. With an incredibly active sound stage, the track bombards viewers from all directions, making full use of the discrete surround channels. In addition, the track has a bass extension that makes quite the statement at times. Coupled with crystal clear high ends and dialogues that are perfectly integrated, "Paycheck" offers up a super dynamic audio experience that has John Woo written all over it.

The extras from the previous DVD version have all been brought over onto this release, including the commentary track by director John Woo. It is insightful and informative, shedding light on many production aspects of the film. Woo is, as always, very candid about the way he works, how he achieves certain effects and why he decides to do things a certain way. Woo fans undoubtedly want to check out this commentary to get the full scoop. Also included on the release is the commentary track by writer Dean Georgaris which is informative, but nonetheless much less intriguing than Woo's comments.

You will also find the featurettes "Paycheck: Designing The Future" as well as "Tempting Fate" on the release, both of which have been part of the DVD release, as well as the deleted scenes.

'Paycheck' is a gripping tale and the way it is told gives the viewer a nice way to 'guess along' while the events unfold. There are a few twists here and there but overall the film is not entirely full of surprises and the ending, while gratifying is also not exactly a plot twist. Still, 'Paycheck' is an action-filled guy-on-the-run roller-coaster with John Woo's signature written all over, and that alone makes it well worth a viewing.