8 out of 10


Cashing In On Time Travel

The London Evening Standard Magazine once ran an interesting feature: they asked top celebrities what they would like as their dream present for Christmas Day. Some wanted a Lambourgini, some Pamela Anderson and some World Peace, but Bob Beckman, a renown Wall St advisor simply asked for a copy of the Financial Times for the 27th December, listing all the closing prices for the day, TWO DAYS EARLY.

In Paycheck, Michael Jennings has just that advantage as he struggles to survive. A brilliant engineer in the science of optics, he has just spent 3 years working for a Allcom, a mysterious company who are run by an old acquaintance, Rethrick (Aaron Eckhart) At the end of his employment, wipe his memory and are supposed to pay him $92,000,000. Remembering nothing of his time there, he is stunned to find out that days before, he asked his bank to refuse ALL the cash in favour of a bag of 20 ludicrous household items, such as a paper clip, a pair of plastic sunglasses and cheap digital watch. As he finds himself being chased by both the FBI and Allcom's hitmen, he beings to realise that his charmed life owes itself to the bag of household items he has, each of which he has preplanned in order to allow him to escape and survive one tight corner after another. How? As becomes quickly clear, the machine he builts has allowed him to see into the future and he now has the bizarre dilemma of knowledge of the future, but not of the past, the opposite for all the rest of us. At least, at the moment!

Although this John Woo directed movie is largely a one joke movie, the joke really is THAT GOOD. Ben Afflick seems the perfect person, for the character has little idea what is going on at the start and his amiable grinning and cluelessness about acting are clearly a major boost to the role here, just as the cold and heartless eyes of Colm Feore as Wolfe, who leads the hitmen, is in a league of his own. As the romantic interest is Uma Thurman, complete with thumbnails you could land a Jumbo Jet on, as his girlfriend, Dr Rachael Porter, and an almost complete irrelevance to the plot - a motorcycle chase has been grafted clumsily onto the film to give her at least some purpose.

Whilst many have criticised this for being a "run-of-the-mill Sci-Fi thriller", such a tag could be challenged on th curious grounds of whether it is Sci-Fi at all. In a sense, this could be regarded as a truly awesome Horror film. For, scarily, the fantastic machine suggested in the film is not just plausible, but ACTUALLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN REAL LIFE. Professor Ronald Mallett of the University Of Connecticut is currently working on such a machine using EXACTLY the same relativistic principles of laser technology and expects to COMPLETE IT WITHIN A COUPLE of years, at approximately the same time as the machine in Paycheck was supposed to have been completed. And if you don't believe me, ask me again two years ago!

A fun flick that's so close to reality, it seems ludicrous

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett