Click here to buy Amazon movie bestsellers

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Payback: A dark anti-hero character

Payback (both the original (released in 1995) and the new released version (released in 2005)) are dark movies. The new released version portrays a character whose characterization is even colder and darker than in the 1999 movie. The tagline for the movie says it all: "Get ready to root for the bad guy". This is quite literally true as you see a guy, who deceived his wife, and in turn was deceived by her and his partner during a robbery and for good measure, gets shot by them and left for dead, coming back to get his share of money.
The interesting part of this movie was how the original movie by director 'Brian Helgeland' was rejected as too dark, brutal and anti-hero by the distributors and the studio, Paramount and Warner Brothers, and 30% of the movie was re-shot by John Myhre who re-shot 30% of the movie with the aim to make Mel Gibson more palatable to the audience in a funnier and more likable role. The original portrayal was deemed such that it would turn off audiences from the character. Eventually, the director was allowed to re-make the movie the way he wanted and it was re-released in 2007 in the way that the director intended.

Payback: A dark anti-hero character

The movie was never that popular, but it is a great movie. The story-telling is incredible, and even though you know the lead character of Mel Gibson is essentially a bad guy in addition to being tough and brutal, you follow the character and his adventures, and you may end up rooting for him to be successful. The new release improves the movie to some extent by removing Mel Gibson's voice-over, forcing more emphasis on the screen play and the evolution of the character and the story.
The movie is all about revenge, and the determination of a guy who has been wronged. He will withstand torture, use his base cleverness and ruthlessness to get out of tricky situations and continue moving on, with hardly a redeeming feature. The only time when you get to see much of humanity is when he is with his former lover where he shows some emotions and feelings (but not that many). The only other time he shows emotion is when he is being tortured to reveal information, and even in that, he takes a huge risk.
Now, about the original movie storyline (since I saw that first). (If you feel that your suspense about the movie will get affected, stop reading whenever you feel). The movie is about this character called Porter (played by Mel Gibson). You never get any other name, just Porter. Porter at one time was a driver to a call girl called Rosie (Maria Bello) and developed an intimate relationship with her; something that his wife Lynn (played by Deborah Kara Unger) discovered later and which led to his downfall.
In order to earn some money, Porter plans a holdup of a Chinese mafia related operation (an extraordinary dangerous thing to hold up another mafia operation since they would not take kindly to it) with his friend Val Resnick (played by Gregg Henry). The operation is simple, ram their car, beat the shit out of them and take the money. Unfortunately for Porter, both his friend and his wife betray him and shoot him twice (and leave him for dead).
However, they should have confirmed his death. He survived, but does not remember too much except for his identity and the fact that money was stolen from him. And from this point on, the story is incredible as he battles his former partner who has already accepted him as dead and used the payoff money to join an organization called The Outfit. Porter teams up with Rosie again (since she is close to The Outfit), and starts an onward movement to get his money back (it seems almost comical as he is trying to explain how he just wants his $70,000 back and not particularly looking for revenge). He also battles 2 crooked detectives and gets them caught in an internal investigation. The movie carries on with him working his way up the chain (typically by killing people whom he meets), including an encounter with the Chinese mafia whom he manages to defeat and run away from on. The first movie has a bloody scene where he is being tortured by a sociopath with a hammer so as to get him to reveal the location of the son of the chief of the outfit.
Overall, this is a great movie, very engrossing and very enjoyable. It has a fair amount of violence though.

Post a Comment