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"PAYCHECK"
(2003) (Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Moderate Extreme Moderate Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None Extreme None Moderate
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Mild None Mild Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Sci-fi: A high-tech contractor tries to sort through the clues he apparently left himself regarding the previously erased memories of his past deeds, all before his previous employers have him killed.
PLOT:
It's 2004 and Michael Jennings (BEN AFFLECK) is a scientist who's hired by high tech companies to steal and improve upon proprietary programs and equipment. His temporary employers don't worry about any confidentiality issues, however, since Michael's agent, Shorty (PAUL GIAMATTI), is contractually obligated to erase all of Michael's memory regarding his secret work.

His latest client, Jimmy Rethrick (AARON ECKHART), is an old friend who dangles a lucrative proposition in front of him. For three years of work - all of which we'll be gone from his memory in an instant when he's done - he'll walk away a very rich man. Realizing he won't miss what he can't recall, Michael agrees, especially when he sees that he'll be working with Rachel Porter (UMA THURMAN), a biologist.

Three years later, he's done and goes to cash out his account, only to discover that he supposedly signed away $92 million in exchange for an envelope containing various everyday items. Michael's obviously upset and doesn't recall doing so, thus putting him in a unique bind.

Things become more complicated when FBI agents Dodge (JOE MORTON) and Klein (MICHAEL C. HALL) arrest and begin interrogating him regarding his last activities and involvement with a government worker who sold his top secret work to Rethrick. Michael can't remember a thing, and after escaping, he goes looking for his old friend.

Jimmy is oddly surprised that Michael is still alive and sends his henchman, Wolfe (COLM FEORE), to find out why and then take care of matters. As Michael tries to avoid him and the FBI, he and Rachel set out to figure out the meaning of the clues that he apparently left for himself regarding his work on a machine that let's anyone see into the future.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're into sci-fi films (especially based on the works of author Philip K. Dick) or are fans of director John Woo or anyone in the cast, they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For intense action violence and brief language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • BEN AFFLECK plays a specialized contractor who tries to reassemble his previously erased memories of his past deeds before his former employers have him killed. He uses some profanity and fights various people who try to capture and/or kill him.
  • AARON ECKHART plays his old friend, a billionaire entrepreneur who's turned bad and wants to make sure Michael doesn't interrupt his nefarious plans any more than he already has.
  • UMA THURMAN plays Michael's colleague and former lover who helps him in his quest to rediscover his past.
  • PAUL GIAMATTI plays Michael's professional manager who also tries to help him and briefly uses some profanity.
  • COLM FEORE plays Rethrick's right-hand man who repeatedly tries to kill Michael.
  • JOE MORTON and MICHAEL C. HALL play FBI agents who are ordered to find and capture Michael. The former smokes once and briefly uses some profanity.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a quick look at the content found in this sci-fi film that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 6 "s" words, while other expletives and various colorful phrases are uttered. Brief sexual innuendo is present, while several couples are seen making out (one with a man kissing down into a woman's cleavage).

    Violence includes a great deal of fighting (occasionally brutal in nature) and gun battles, while several people are killed (by gunfire and an explosion). Some of those scenes have slightly bloody results (a still photo shows more blood) and they and others may be suspenseful to some viewers. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while some drink, some smoke and various forms of imitative behavior are present.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, some strobe-like effects occur in one scene.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Michael has champagne with a woman who hired him.
  • Miscellaneous people have champagne and drinks at a party/reception.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see the large needle of a needle gun go into Michael's forearm (no blood but we see the insertion).
  • We see a close-up photo of a dead man's head with blood around it (it's briefly seen again later).
  • Two gunmen end up shooting each other (one is wounded with a small bloody bullet hole in his clothing over his shoulder).
  • Rachel has some blood on her hand that then smears on a glass plane.
  • A recently shot man has a little blood from his mouth.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Those who try to kill or have Michael killed obviously have extreme bad attitudes.
  • Michael works as a computer engineer of sorts who copies others' work and then modifies it for those who've hired him. He then has his memory erased regarding his work to protect their efforts.
  • Those who hire Michael for such work also have bad attitudes.
  • We hear that a government worker or contractor sold his top secret work to Rethrick.
  • A guy on a bus steals a diamond ring from Michael by using himself as a distraction (falling over and into him).
  • Rethrick and Wolfe watch Rachel in her bathroom via a hidden surveillance camera.
  • Agent Dodge lies to the Attorney General about Michael and pockets a piece of evidence for himself.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" might also be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • As Shorty erases the part of Michael's memory regarding his last job, he becomes concerned with Michael's rising brain temperature (that could leave him a "vegetable").
  • For those scared of/queasy about needles, we see the large needle of a needle gun go into Michael's forearm (no blood but we see the insertion).
  • FBI agents restrain Michael to a chair and then do a brain probe on him that causes him some discomfort and raises his brain temperature to dangerous levels.
  • After trying to short circuit a subway tunnel's rails, Michael runs from a rapidly approaching train and falls just as the rail shorts, causing the brakes to kick in and stop the train quite close to Michael.
  • We see Wolfe with a sniper rifle prepared to shoot at Michael.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Rifles/Machine guns/Poles: Used to threaten, wound or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • We see a still photo of a nuclear blast and then some long-shot footage of the blast destroying a city.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Shut up," "What the hell is this?" "Where the hell is it?" "How the hell did he do that?" an incomplete "Who the..?" and "Damn you."
  • All of the fighting, stunts and gunplay may be enticing for some kids to imitate (particularly since it's made to look cool).
  • A guy on a bus steals a diamond ring from Michael by using himself as a distraction (falling over and into him).
  • Michael uses hairspray and a lighter to shoot flames at one man.
  • Rachel wears a midriff-revealing top.
  • Michael and Rachel throw ball bearings through a metal detector as others pass through them to set off the alarms (and cause a distraction).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of suspenseful and action-oriented music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 6 "s" words, 4 hells, 2 damns, 2 uses each of "Jesus" and "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "Jesus Christ," "Oh God" and "Oh Jesus."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Michael and his temporary female employer do some passionate, clothed kissing (while standing) and then do so again. Later, when we see his memory of the encounter, we briefly see him kissing down into her cleavage.
  • Michael comes on to Rachel at a party and says that he's cutting to the chase by asking if she wants to "go somewhere" (presumably to fool around). She doesn't.
  • Rachel shows some cleavage.
  • We briefly see a woman on the street who appears to be a hooker.
  • Michael watches a video (that he doesn't recall) of him and Rachel passionately kissing in bed (she's in a nightgown and under the covers, he's clothed and above them).
  • SMOKING
  • Michael and Rethrick smoke cigars in one scene, while Agent Dodge smokes once as does a miscellaneous person.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The concept of erasing part of one's memory.
  • The future, and the time travel time conundrum of seeing and then changing it.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Michael discovers a door in his place open and then slowly goes to investigate a sound. We then see a man holding a gun and Michael hits him or another man with a pole and there's some struggling. One of them then hits Michael in the gut or crotch and another hits him with a stun gun zapper that briefly shocks him into submission.
  • FBI agents restrain Michael to a chair and then do a brain probe on him that causes him some discomfort and raises his brain temperature to dangerous levels.
  • Michael hits and punches several agents to escape.
  • Michael accidentally runs into some people and knocks others aside as he flees from FBI agents.
  • A thief and Michael run into some people on a bus as the latter chases the former.
  • There's talk that a man fell to his death (but it's suggested he was murdered).
  • A kid pulls out a toy gun and shoots it at Michael. A real assassin then opens fire on Michael as does another at him and Shorty who flee for safety. As Shorty goes for a locked door, they continue to shoot at him. Michael knocks a gunman aside. Others shoot at him; he struggles with one gunman and pushes him back into something, then struggles with another over his gun and pushes him back through a large plate of glass.
  • A man shoots at Michael in a subway steam tunnel.
  • Michael uses hairspray and a lighter to shoot flames at one man. That causes him and another gunman to end up shooting each other (one is wounded with a small bloody bullet hole in his clothing over his shoulder, while we don't know about the other).
  • Michael punches one gunman who Wolfe then shoots and kills (with the body landing on a subway tunnel's electrified rail with expected results). Michael and Wolfe then hold guns on each other at point blank range.
  • Michael kicks his ammo clip at a subway tunnel's electrified rail where it explodes in front of Wolfe who then fires some shots at Michael as he flees.
  • Michael has a memory of a bullet being fired at him (in slow motion) and then striking him in the chest (with no blood).
  • Rachel hits a woman - who's posing as her -- with a bag, knocking her out, as that woman pulls a gun on Michael. Wolfe then opens fire on them with a sniper rifle but misses. He then fires at the two as they ride away on a motorcycle (beginning with them smashing through a plate glass window on it).
  • Michael and Rachel race the wrong way down a road and through traffic on a motorcycle during a chase scene. Wolfe and others shoot at them during the chase, with a large truck smashing into a pursuing car. Other cars slide into some pallets and smash into the side of some large metal tubes. After Rachel gets off the bike to grab a dropped envelope, Wolfe shoots at her several times. Another car hits a metal tube and explodes and another also crashes and flips up onto its nose.
  • A police car chases Michael and Rachel through a tunnel that's a tight fit for the car. A low hanging metal bar then hits the car and rips through its windshield and roof. Rachel then throws a helmet at the driver, hitting him in the head and knocking him out.
  • We see several more views of the slow motion bullet coming at Michael, hitting him in the chest, and then him falling backwards off a catwalk.
  • We see a still photo of a nuclear blast and then long-shot moving footage of it destroying a city.
  • Rethrick's men use explosives to blow a large door open.
  • Michael grabs a man's feet and pulls them out from under him, causing the man to fall and bang his head on a platform. He then throws another man through some glass and trips another. A brief gun battle then breaks out between him and some men. A man fires at Michael with a shotgun and Michael punches one man several times.
  • Rachel hits a man who prepares to shoot Michael, while he struggles with others and causes some property damage in the process. Rachel then sends a suspended metal object through the air where it hits a guy. She then throws something else at another man and then kicks him backwards. Another man then opens fire on her and Michael with a machine gun.
  • Michael and a man struggle (with the latter holding a pole around the other and Michael elbowing the guy). He then hits a gun with a gun and fires the machine gun at others.
  • Rachel uses a computer controlled mechanical arm to hit some bad guys with a pole. Michael then uses that pole to hit many bad guys. Rachel unleashes a wind machine on some bad guys who try to shoot Michael, but he hits them repeatedly with a pole (with some brutal hitting).
  • Michael shoots a lock to close a door.
  • Rethrick shoots at Michael and the two then hold guns on each other at point blank range. Both men then lower their guns and punch and struggle with each other. Rethrick wraps a cable of some sort around Michael, and then both have it around them. Rethrick then punches Michael and hits him with something that temporarily dazes him. He then uses a machine to lift Michael into the air by that cable around his neck (like a noose).
  • A man shoots at Michael and Rachel, but they duck out of the way and the bullet hits and kills another man.
  • Massive explosions rock a lab, blowing a man backwards (presumably killing him) and causing a tremendous amount of property damage.



  • Reviewed December 22, 2003 / Posted December 25, 2003

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