½*/**** Image A Sound A- Extras B
starring Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Aaron Eckhart, Michael C. Hall
screenplay by Dean Georgaris, based on the short story by Philip K. Dick
directed by John Woo
by Walter Chaw At the end of John Woo's latest Hollywood misstep, Ben Affleck, as brilliant "reverse engineer" Michael Jennings, hefts two bags of manure on his back and stumbles around with them for a while, effectively defusing anything cogent I could say about Paycheck. It is worth wondering, however, why people like Affleck and Keanu Reeves are so attractive in science-fiction premises (Reeves even had a turn with the memory-loss high-tech agent thing in Johnny Mnemonic)--probably something to do with the idea of robots and minds wiped clean. The problem with Paycheck isn't really that it's not well thought-out or that it's possibly the first Woo action film to be genuinely boring from start to finish, but that Woo seems to have replaced his joy of genre (and genius within the medium) with a scrabbling desperation to manufacture what used to come naturally.