Payback (1999)

Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, David Paymer
Porter is shot by his wife and best friend and is left to die. When he survives he plots revenge.
Sadistic violence and rote humor saddle a predictable action premise.
  • Paramount Pictures Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 05 Feb 1999 Released:
  • 27 Jul 1999 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:

All subtitles:



Trailer:

A very fun 100 minutes!8/10
"Payback" is one of those highly entertaining movies that make you forget your sorrows for a moment and entertains you right till the end. Difference with most other entertaining movies is that this movie also has a great story!

The movie is completely driven by the main character played by Mel Gibson. He plays a great and fun criminal who is an anti-hero and a total bad guy but still someone for who you can feel and cheer about. The movie also features lot's of other great actors including James Coburn in a very fun role, Kris Kristofferson, Lucy Liu, Bill Duke and David Paymer. The movie is filled with great and entertaining characters.

The story is just great and has quite some nice twists and moments. The movie is comedy like but it also has a wonderful film-noir feeling with a typical atmosphere. There are also some nice action sequences in which Mel Gibson's character might be featured a bit too much as an hero.

Nothing about this movie indicates that there were troubles on the set during filming with the director Brian Helgeland, on the contrary! Everything about the movie feels very fun like.

Solid entertainment!

8/10

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Top-notch9/10
Easily one of Gibson's best, and one of the best of it's kind you will ever see. Homage to film noir, combined with usual Gibson tongue-in-cheekness, and some fabulous supporting roles from the likes of Coburn, Kristofferson, Liu, and Devane. Henry does a stirling job here opposite Gibson. Liu is simply wonderful in a role that - worryingly perhaps - looks like it was made for her!

Porter's single-minded, no-nonsense determination to get what he sees as justice for himself strikes a chord, and has you rooting for him right to the end. This film rarely lets up on the intensity, and gets better as it goes along. It will make you laugh and cringe at the same time, but you won't want to take your eyes off the screen for a second. It looks good, feels good, and oozes class. Definitely a must-see.
It's just plain mean!8/10

Payback, while admittedly one of the more violent movies out this year, was definitely an entertaining flick.

Like the promo catch phrase says, this time you'll root for the bad guy. If Gibson's character has any redeeming qualities, they are on a very short list. Porter (Gibson) is violent, at times even cruel and the other characters aren't much better; some are worse. Every character is from the wrong side of the tracks, even the cops are on the take and there are no punches pulled. The only character you can really feel is a "good guy" is Rose, the stereotypical Callgirl with a heart of gold (although it's maybe only 10 karat, not a real 24 karat heart).

Nevertheless, you will root for Porter. Frankly, I don't think anyone else could have pulled off this role and still kept the support of the audience like Gibson did, but then he generally always plays the good guy with a twist. This time, the twist is a little more savage than usual.

All in all, if you enjoy the occasional violent romp on the big screen and you're a fan of Mel Gibson; Payback is worth seeing.
Point Blank Great!10/10
If you don't like violence, then don't watch this movie. If you are open to great storytelling and gritty dialogue, this is the movie for you. In some ways superior to the remake and just as gripping. Some have hated this film just because of what it was, and that's a shame for them that they can't enjoy a film that neither glorifies nor trashes the underside of life. In a weird way, the main character Porter (who was Walker in the Lee Marvin film, played this time by Mel Gibson who is almost as good as Lee Marvin. Nobody could be better than Marvin in this kind of role) has a kind of decency code of his own even though it is more than a bit twisted. After all, in a world inhabited by criminals, the rules change significantly and so once has to either adapt or find a way out. Porter does both in both versions.

No sense in rehashing the plot. Suffice it to say that it is about a crook who got burned and wants what is coming to him and gets even along the way. Besides, the plot has been recounted by so many better reviewers than myself. I can only say that in "Point Blank" the ending is a bit more ambiguous. A precursor to the films of the 1970s.

It's always hard for me to rate one film version over another. It is almost impossible to not want to (in my mind at least) mix and match actors in roles. James Coburn played the same part as did Carroll O'Connor in the original and they are both perfect while being so different. After all, they were both accomplished actors. And maybe I could have done without a lot of the S&M and B&D scenes in the newer version but I chalk that up to the changes in the world since the 1960s.

Long before there was a Quentin Tarrantino, there were great directors like Don Siegel, Sam Peckinpah and Sam Fuller who were as tough as nails and not just some fan who knew how to use the best of all of these guys brilliant touches, and add some sick jokes. But director/writer Brain Helgeland does spectacularly well with the material, while the new cast shines in their roles almost as though they weren't acting, but living the parts. And that goes right down to the underrated David Paymer as a pathetic hustler (who could easily have been played in earlier times by an Elisha Cook Jr. as he did with the Wilmer role from "The Maltese Falcon" yet Paymer does so with more humor.) It is hard to make one root for people so lacking in morals but director, writer and actors manage amazingly well.

Both "Payback" and "Point Blank" are instant classics that should be considered as such. And God bless the memories of Lee Marvin and John Vernon (both in the original "Point Blank" version.) Such fine thespians will be sorely missed. Fortunately, their memories are on celluloid and other mediums to be enjoyed by many more audiences.

You might have guessed I really love these two movies.
nasty. twisted. violent. Excellent.5/10

How much is $70,000 worth to you? I'm sure that right now 70 grand would come in real handy. But is it worth numerous beatings, getting shot, being run over and having your toes mashed by a hammer? It is to Porter.

I'm sure you're aware of the plot to this film (vengence, old flames and mucho violence) but that barely scratches the surface of this brilliant little noir. Whilst the story is basic the nuts and bolts used to make it are complex, twisting and not quite what you expect. For a start there are the characters. No good guys. Not one. Porter is a criminal. He's not even a
particularly nice one. He's a killer, a thief, a thug, a gambler, a cheater, a liar and I bet he doesn't even pay his taxes. Likewise everybody else. Sadists, murderers, corrupt cops, drug dealers, gang members, mobsters, hookers. They're all here in their various shades of bad.

The success of this film relies on two people: Gibson and screenwriter/director Brian Helgeland. With the lead gleefully playing against his nice guy image Porter is as nasty as they come but still retains such charm and Gibsons trademark grin that not for one moment do you dislike him. He's cool in a way that Bruce Willis' Jackal never was. He quietly slipped across continents with hi-tech equipment in various guises waiting for his moment. Porter just walks into the hoods house with nothing but a revolver and asks for his money back. A lot of the comments I've read say that Porter is mean. He isn't. He'll just do what it takes to get his money back. He has nothing to loose so why not do it anyway. Porter is who Riggs would be if he'd never met Murtaugh. Out of control, against massive odds but just crazy enough not to give a damn.

Helgeland shows real talent as a director in his first time outing. As a scriptwriter he's always been in the upper classes with a talent for mixing unrepentant violence with uneasy humour. Here he shows he can tell a damn good story along with writing it. Nothing happens the way it's supposed to. We're used to good guys threatening to kill but always really bluffing. Porter isn't. He'll ask for what he wants, he doesn't get it, BANG, you're dead. People die at the wrong time too. Characters that are supposed to last until the end die in the middle while minors that only just arrive survive only to get whacked by the finish anyway. The motivation is all wrong as well. 70,000 is chump change to these people. The mobsters are wearing suits worth more than that. But Porter wants that and nothing more. He spends most of the film correcting people who think he's after more.

While based on the same source material as Point Blank, Payback is nothing like it stylistically. The first used understated violence. Payback goes for the jugular and rips it out with copious amounts of rheseus negative. It's hard to see this film working without this combo of star and director. If you had, say Sylvester Stallone or Nicolas Cage and Richard Donner or Joel Schumacher in charge you'd just have a bunch of nasty people doing nasty things with none of the ghoulishly comic touches that make Porter cool. Be thankful it's the combination it is and then go and see it. If you like thrillers you'll love this.