Monday, December 29, 2003

Paycheck (IMDB) (Netflix)
Another Philip K. Dick short story turned into a movie, starring Ben Affleck as the consummate reverse engineer who works on projects so sensitive that he has to get his memory wiped clean after each project. It's a living. On his last gig, however, he intentionally gives up his fee and sends himself a care package of clues and job aids that would make MacGyver proud. The question that's running through his recently scrubbed brain is "why the hell would I do that?"

Dick's stories usually minimized the usual sci-fi technology trappings and often focused on cognition (in the case of Minority Report, pre-cognition) and memory (Total Recall). He works these themes again to good effect here, requiring that Affleck and Uma Thurman (and the audience) figure out what the game is at the same time they're dodging evil henchmen trying to kill them. Eventually, this reduces down to a conventional action thriller, but the premise fuels a great two-thirds of a movie.