When Payback came out in 1999, I wasn't a big fan. While I liked Mel Gibson as a perfectly balanced anti-hero, the movie just wasn't as funny or action packed as I was expecting and hoping it would be. The ending was rather lousy, though I don't quite remember what that ending was. My original review's bottom line was: "If Payback would have had a little more comedy and a little more flowing action, it might have been worth it, but it didn't and therefore it wasn't worth it." Real Shakespeare, I know, but it gets the point across.
Now, in 2007, the director's cut is coming to DVD, and supposedly it is quite different. Since I haven't seen the movie in eight years and didn't find it that memorable to begin with, I honestly can't remember much about the original, but what I do know is that this version is director Brian Helgeland's intended version. Back in 1998, Helgeland walked away (or was forced) from his movie due to creative differences, and the version that was seen in theaters was 30% re-shot. The entire third act was essentially redone, and Kris Kristofferson was added in as the main villain. Needless to say, Helgeland's original vision was changed quite a bit, but now fans of Payback can see it the way it was intended to be.
Unfortunately, I am not a fan of Payback, and found that this version is just as boring, if not more so, than the original. It isn't very funny at all, and the few action scenes aren't anything to scream about.
The new Straight Up: Director's Cut version offers commentary by Helgeland, a couple on-location featurettes, a look at how the director's cut was created and an interview with Payback author Donald E. Westlake.
Those who enjoyed Payback should certainly check out this significantly altered version, but the director's cut doesn't do much to drastically improve the overall quality of the film.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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