Mixed or average reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 34
  2. Negative: 8 out of 34
  1. 80
    John Woo's smart thriller Paycheck may not intend to be political, but it's marked as much by its era as post-Watergate thrillers like "The Parallax View" or "Three Days Of The Condor."
  2. A nifty science-fiction twist on the old amnesia plot where a guy spends most of a movie trying to remember what he did and why everyone is after him.
  3. Reviewed by: Chris Barsanti
    Quite honestly, if this had been a more violent film, it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun.
  4. 67
    Affleck is in the middle, engaging in derring-do, pitching woo to Uma Thurman and making the whole thing come off as less exciting than it should have been.
  5. There are chases that feel way too long, and dialogue that feels flat. Affleck and Thurman make a handsome duo, but there's no spark between the actors.
  6. 63
    We're left with the painful reality that Paycheck might get Alfred Hitchcock, but it certainly doesn't know Philip K. Dick.
  7. 60
    Woo's film is in some ways closer to Dick's -- and his own -- pulp roots, and if he lazily quotes himself (and, inexplicably, Aldrich's "Kiss Me Deadly") once too often, he at least gets loose, spirited performances from his cast -- Uma's post-"Kill Bill" gravitas notwithstanding.
  8. Reviewed by: Adam Smith
    in the end, Paycheck never quite cashes out.
  9. The amazing thing about John Woo's steely, impersonal adaptation of Philip K. Dick sci-fi story about a tech genius whose memory is how it vanishes in front of our eyes even as we watch it.
  10. Unfortunately, after watching Paycheck, you may wish you had the picture's gimmickry at your disposal, so you could erase your own memory of it.
  11. Woo has never been particularly good at human stuff, and to the extent that Paycheck is, or should be, a love story, it feels forced.
  12. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Maybe Affleck was drawn to this movie because it involves the loss of memory. Who wouldn't want to forget "Gigli," and now this?
  13. The silliness only slows down for a few hokey romantic interludes. But if you like to see stuff crash or blow up, this is your movie.
  14. 50
    Begins with a thought-provoking idea from Philip K. Dick, exploits it for its action and plot potential, but never really develops it.
  15. 50
    Surprisingly . . . ept given that it is basically a dumb movie about smart people. This smooth but bland thriller may be the best we could expect from such a collaboration.
  16. 50
    Paycheck is too smart for a mindless actioneer, and too slick to capture the full moral weight of Dick's dystopia.
  17. Running mainly on adrenaline and a gimmick, it's different from other holiday movies in that it's not ambitious, earnest or overblown, and it obviously wasn't made with one eye on the Oscars.
  18. The bogus Seattle setting creates an additional problem for local moviegoers. Because we know Seattle doesn't have a subway, giant FBI building or newspapers called Telegraph or Tribune, we're jarred out of the story so regularly that it leaves us slightly punch-drunk.
  19. Paycheck is one of those movies in which all the ingenuity went into the original idea and none into its execution.
  20. Woo's customary action-film pyrotechnics gather more substance than usual from the implausible but inventive plot, drawn from a Philip K. Dick story.
  21. 50
    Longtime fans of John Woo, who have come to accept operatic, lead-slinging death dances as an integral part of the director’s powerful aesthetic, will probably be unsatisfied with this neutered variation on his earlier, superior works.
  22. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    Uninspired star turns from Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman suggest something less than full belief in this quickly forgettable thriller.
  23. The sort of noisy nonsense that Woo's earlier action movies made irrelevant, but alas not extinct.
  24. 40
    Affleck is no more convincing as a flesh-and-blood action than as a superbrain, Thurman is cruelly photographed and director Woo appears to be imitating his own worst work.
  25. 38
    With a script that waffles between being hilariously absurd and insultingly stupid, and action scenes that won't cause anyone's pulse to skip a beat, Paycheck is less appealing than a lump of coal in a Christmas stocking.
  26. The story, adapted by Dean Georgaris, doesn't come within a light year of science-fiction plausibility, and after a while Woo gives up trying to sell it and reverts to the action choreography that made him a master of Hong Kong martial-arts movies.
  27. Isn't a bad movie, until John Woo remembers that he's John Woo and we remember that Ben Affleck is Ben Affleck.
  28. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    Paycheck is a bogus journey.
  29. Paycheck is a terribly muddled mess, a Hitchcock homage (with generous, obvious nods to The Birds, Strangers on a Train and North by Northwest) by a great filmmaker trying to say a great deal with so very little.
  30. 25
    The title of this limp retread of "Minority Report" -- both films are based on stories by Philip K. Dick -- presumably refers to the reason the big names involved did this movie.
  31. Represents such a professional nadir for each of its principals that you wish better for them in the new year.
  32. 20
    Maybe it’s time for Woo to finally make that musical he keeps talking about.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 67 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 28
  2. Negative: 7 out of 28
  1. Oct 13, 2014
    While you may not know the name Phillip K. Dick, many of the biggest Science Fiction films of the last thirty years have been adaptations ofWhile you may not know the name Phillip K. Dick, many of the biggest Science Fiction films of the last thirty years have been adaptations of his work. Dick is responsible for the films Blade Runner, The Terminator, Total Recall, Minority Report, and Paycheck just to name a few. Due to the popularity of his work in film and how successful they've been, even a lesser known work like Paycheck has been made into a film. The story includes many of the action sequences and interesting characters associated with Dick's stories, but Paycheck does lack the futuristic Science Fiction that has become Dick's signature, which is the main reason this story isn't as well known as his other works. The story takes place in modern day, where a man is offered an irresistible deal. Jennings (Ben Affleck) is told that if he works on a secret project for the next 3 years, he will receive 100 million dollars. The only catch being that after the 3 years are up, Jennings memory will be erased and he will have no idea what he worked on. As expected, Jennings accepts the deal and returns to his life 3 years later, but nothing is that simple. Soon everyone from the FBI to bounty hunters show up trying to get to him, and the only clues he has come from an envelope he sent himself, containing 19 random items that seem to have little or no value. Ben Affleck stars and by this point we all know how I feel about him. Affleck is a terrific Director, who seems to have little interest in acting anymore. Paycheck however is a 2003 film, a time before Affleck had proven himself and he shows that rare charisma that is only present in his real early work. His performance is outstanding and aided further by his chemistry with co-star Uma Thurman. Thurman is another performer who I find isn't very good unless she's in very specific type of role, and fortunately for Affleck, this is one of those roles. Paycheck is missing the big signature associated with Dick's work and will be somewhat disappointing to his fans. I did miss the futuristic element, but I was intrigued by the mystery Jennings was trying to solve and the 19 items. Combined with the action sequences, (that are always top notch) Paycheck isn't what I expected, but was still very well done and definitely worth watching. Full Review »
  2. Nov 25, 2012
    Paycheck is one of those movies that had the potential to be really, truly great, but due to a series of small problems, ended up as less thanPaycheck is one of those movies that had the potential to be really, truly great, but due to a series of small problems, ended up as less than it could have been and largely ignored. In short (and you can get this from the trailer), Ben Affleck plays a gifted engineer whose particular talent lies in reverse-engineering a company's product so that a competitor can get a head-start to market. In order to maintain deniability, his memory of each job is wiped, leaving him with just a paycheck (hence the title). But after accepting a long-term job, he finds himself a wanted man with no clue why, just a lot of questions. An outstanding premise. It is made all the better by creative writing, particularly the inclusion of a MacGuyver-esque puzzle that wends its way through the entire plot of the film. Dialogue is generally well written, only rarely losing its real-world edge (which is forgivable). Outstanding performances are turned in by Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Paul Giamatti, Aaron Eckhart, Colm Feore, and Joe Morton -- who, although given a relatively thin part, managed to turn it into a major, dynamic element of the plot and really shines. John Powell's original score was outstanding and a perfect balance of driving action music and reflective melodies when appropriate. Really, the faults of the film lie with John Woo, whose now-trite directorial hallmarks end up making their appearances in the film self-ridicule rather than poignant moment. (John, if you're reading: get rid of the flying dove gimmick. It was ridiculous in Mission Impossible 2, and it was ridiculous here. It's a joke, not art.) Woo is still an excellent action director, and the car chases, fight sequences, and other action-driven sections of the film do well by him. But someone else needs to take over when the fists and tires aren't flying; it's only the innate acting ability of people like Affleck, Thurman, and others (did I mention Joe Morton did a great job?) that save some sections of the film. Casting was bang-on, though, and Paul Giamatti does an A+ perfect job as the Voice of Reason and comic relief -- one of those blessed times that you don't groan inwardly when the comic relief character shows up; Giamatti does an exemplary job. And even though the film is, as of this writing, nearly a decade old, it doesn't come off as stale sci-fi -- a rarity. It is definitely worth watching if you're any kind of sci-fi fan (it comes from the mind of Philip K Dick...check out how many of his stories became wildly popular films) -- find a copy and have fun. Full Review »
  3. Jun 9, 2012
    I think that this movie has many twists and turns that is enough to keep people on the edge of their seats. And it surely has something toI think that this movie has many twists and turns that is enough to keep people on the edge of their seats. And it surely has something to tell. It mentioned that predicting the future is something that we should not try to do. After all, I think that this is a very nice movie. Full Review »