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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Payback

Starring: Mel Gibson, Maria Bello
Director: Brian Helgeland
Rated: R
RunTime: 102 Minutes
Release Date: February 1999
Genres: Suspense, Thriller

*Also starring: James Coburn, William Devane, Bill Duke, Gregg Henry, Lucy Liu, Kris Kristofferson, Deborah Unger, David Paymer

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Susan Granger review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  MrBrown read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
3.  Dustin Putman read the review movie review
4.  Harvey Karten read the review ---
5.  Walter Frith read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
6.  Greg King read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review

Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

Mel Gibson's back, and he's grimly determined to wreak revenge, utilizing every bit of firepower and brutality available in this over-the-top 'noir' action thriller that's set in some dank, crumbling, art deco city. Gibson plays a nasty professional thief who was shot in the back left for dead in a garage by a double-crossing partner (Gregg Henry) and deceitful, junkie wife (Deborah Kara Unger) after they successfully heisted $140,000 in cash from Chinese money launderers. But he's alive and determined to pursue his perverse sense of justice, taking on a shadowy, corporate crime syndicate known as The Outfit (Kris Kristofferson, James Coburn, William Devane) and aided by an old girl-friend (Maria Bello), a high-priced call-girl. All the women in this movie are sleazy and unsympathetic - but, then again, so are all the macho men. There's lot of fighting, shooting, and endless gratuitous violence - some quite sadistic and graphic, like the industrial pedicure, which involves smashing toes with a sledgehammer, and seeing a person's nose ring ripped out. In fact, the torture, incinerations, slicing and dicing is all there is. Based on the novel, "The Hunter" by Richard Stark, adapted by Brian Helgeland ("L.A. Confidential," "The Postman," "Conspiracy Theory") and Terry Hayes, and directed by Brian Helgeland, it's also a re-make of John Boorman's "Point Blank" (1967) which starred menacing Lee Marvin. And Mel Gibson is no Lee Marvin. Basically, Gibson's miscast, delivering a dull, portentous narration and desperately looking for wit where none exists. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Payback" is a loud, lethal 4. It's what they call "comic book violence" but it's so choppy, cheesy and crude that no one's laughing.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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