A brisk, enjoyable, implausible sci-fi thriller, Paycheck stars Ben Affleck as a genius engineer (!) hired for work so secret his employer (Aaron Eckhart) erases his memory of it. After a three-year stint he can't remember, he's handed an envelope of personal effects which aren't his and told he forfeited the $90 million paycheck headed his way. Why did he do it? What are the items for? And who, suddenly, wants him dead? These questions are semi-answered as Face/Off director John Woo whizzes through a fraught 110 minutes.
Adapted from a Philip K Dick story, Dean Georgaris' script sucks away the little-man-against-the system soul of the cult writer's work, opting instead for low-thought sci-fi, with the standard corporation-controlled future a superficial setting for a catch-your-breath chase.
Unaware of why he's sent himself seemingly random objects - a key, watch, security pass and more - Affleck head-scratches between action sequences, with the help of a woman he can't recall falling in love with (Uma Thurman).
"WOO WHIPS THINGS ALONG QUICKLY"
The 'science' on display is pretty often laughable (blah about the curvature of the universe), while logic levels the premise. If Affleck's super-brainy tech-head can sabotage the machine he's been hired to create, why can't he leave a message for his future self, explaining what the hell is going on?
Still, Woo whips things along quickly, with his now-standard Mexican stand-offs, slow-mo sequences and trademark soft-focus 'dove shot'. It's a long way from the Hong Kong highlights of The Killer and Hard Boiled, but Affleck does his decent, square-jawed hero schtick, Paul Giamatti gives a good cameo and Eckhart is his ever-excellent self as the big business bad guy.