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Payback (1999)

Payback (1999)


Mel Gibson
Gregg Henry
Maria Bello
David Paymer

Directed by Brian Helgeland

Payback is a fantastic film, they don’t make movies like this no more. The determination of a man not to be cheated of what is rightfully his and with the realization that he has nothing to lose – such a man can bring down an empire. That is what Payback is about, a man who brought hell to everyone because he wants the money that was stolen from him. Mind you, that money was his share from the money he and his partner stole from someone else.

The person that drives this movie home is Mel Gibson sad that the director (Brian Helgeland) did not get to finish the movie he started. He aimed for a more darker movie (which Mel Gibson and the studio did not like and he was let go).
After some heavy re-shooting (which shot up the budget reasonably), good editing and a rewritten script, the final theatrical cut is the one for me. They made the movie easy to follow by adding narration by Gibson’s character Potter.
The action in the movie is top notch and enjoyable. It is how the movie stayed true to the comedic crime thriller it was trying to deliver, without any side glance wasted on a sex scene or a prolonged romantic aspect, is all that made this movie fun to watch and rewatch.

So who is Potter? Potter is a criminal who carries out heist with his partner Val Resnick and his wife Lynn. During one heist, Val was able to convince Lynn to shoot Potter in the back. That is where the movie starts, it starts with Potter recuperating from two gun shot wounds to the back. Val and Lynn expected him to die from those shuts, but Potter lived.

He returned back to his home town to get revenge back on Val and Lynn, and to get his money back. Upon his return he discovers that Lynn is now a shadow of herself, wasting away. Val has moved up in the criminal world, he was able to pay the needed sum for him to join a criminal empire known as the outfit.

All these did not deter Potter who went after Val and the outfit for his share of half the money he and Val stole, his share was 70,000. An amount he had to constantly remind everyone.

The comedic tone and the somewhat happy ending, are a plus to this movie.
The movie is based on a book called The Hunter written in 1962 by Richard Stark. The script of the movie follows the main story arc of the book almost to the letter. The movie adds a few more characters, increases the money being asked for and changed the name of the lead (from Parker to Potter) and the name of some other characters.

I will definitely be seeing Payback again.


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