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on 1 May 2010
This blu ray disc came as something of a surprise to me. It is actually a far better release than the US version.

Firstly there are 2 versions of the film here, the theatrical cut and the directors cut which has been advertised as a harder version. On watching the directors cut for the first time, I noticed that this is in fact quite a different film from the theatrical release. New scenes begin and end the film, a lot of footage has been taken out with altogether new footage replacing it and the ending and outcome of the film is significantly different. The character of "Porter" played by Mel Gibson, does seem a lot more intense in this version and comes across a lot more menacing.

As well as alternate scenes, the look of the film is also a substantial variant on the theatrical release as it has lost it's previous "blue tint" effect that was throughout the original release.

If directors cuts are generally not your cup of tea, or for people that prefer the original lighter theatrical cut, it is also present here and to have the 2 versions on one disc is a real treat as they should really be treated as separate films due to the substantial difference between them.

The best thing about this release is having the option of both cuts on one disc unlike the US blu ray, which only includes the new directors cut.

The film is presented in a 16x9 1080p transfer for both versions, which looks really very good, although due to the way this was filmed, don't go expecting to see reference quality material here.

The English 5.1 true hd soundtrack is excellent and seemed a lot stronger and clearer than I thought it would have.

As far as extras for this release go, Warner Home Video have not been slack. Probably just having the 2 versions of the film here could have been enough to justify a purchase which would have excused a potential lack of extras, however we are also offered, an informative directors cut commentary track, interviews with cast members including Mel Gibson and James Coburn and in addition, a feature on creating the new directors cut. Rounding things up, there is on location footage from both LA and Chicago.

Overall this release provides a very neat package and for completists or fans of the film, an altogether worthy purchase.

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VINE VOICEon 4 August 2007
Before studio execs and Mel Gibson got all uppity with Brian Helgeland, Payback was a darker, meaner film. But after an apparently poor test screening in 1997(honestly, what IS the point of these?) they put Payback on hold for over a year so Mel could do Lethal Weapon 4 before going back for some re-shoots, with a new director, to make the film happier.

So they approved a script of a dark, moody revenge thriller, green-lighted it for production and changed their minds to make it lighter because a ragtag audience didn't understand/like it? Man, Hollywood is one weird town.

The resulting film, which was eventually released in 1999, seemed a bit tacked together. There were scenes that just seemed out of place and irregular. It was obvious that any scene actually shot back in 1997 was shot on location and any scene shot for the 1999 cut was just shot in the generic 'street set' on the Warner back-lot. Despite all of this, Payback was still a fun film that failed to go all the way with it's concept.

The new DC is a superior version, no doubt and is about 33% different. There are new scenes and odds and ends through out the running time and the last act is completely different. Kris Kristoffersen is gone and replaced by Sally Kellerman (voice only, Bronson is never seen). James Coburn and John Glover also have smaller roles. The narration from Porter is gone as well as the blue tint to most of the film. Now most scenes are just lit as normal without any post-production filtering.

There is also a new musical score. The jazzy feel to the opening scenes is still there but through-out the rest of the film the score is more atmospheric and understated. Both are as good as each and fit the differing tones, so there's no better of the two.

It does end a bit abruptly and without any truly satisfying conclusion. I guess this is what annoyed test audiences. But a disgruntled audience should not be a decision-making committee when it comes to making movies.

The HD DVD is in glorious 2.4:1 1080p with Dolby Digital+ sound and loads of extras.
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on 20 December 2009
The main reason I brought this product was to see the new directors cut of Payback which I had not seen before... the fact this was on Blu ray was very much an added bonus! The Directors cut does have a completely different feel to it and after some discussion with a friend we still cannot decide which version is the better!

The transfer of the new version is nothing short of spot on... the picture quality is amazing and the sound it top notch... If I had just one gripe with the blu ray its that the transfer of the theatrical release of the film is not nearly as good as the new directors cut

If you are a fan of this film and havent yet seen the Directors Cut then I highly recommend this purchase!
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on 20 December 2009
We can probably agree on a few things ...

1) Re-making the peerless classic Point Blank as film noir, bad idea? Check. 2) Having it made by god watcher Mel Gibson's production company Icon, bad idea? Check. 3) Casting our Mel in Lee Marvin's role, bad idea? Check. 4) Having the film taken from the director by the studio and re-worked to make it more audience friendly, very bad idea? Check. 5) The studio adding a Blade Runner like voice over, bad idea? Check! 6) Allowing the disgraced director to re-work his original cut for this disc, (it contains the studio and director's cut's) great idea? Check.

WRONG! And who'd have thought? 1) As good and probably better than original! 2) Icon has done a superb job! 3) Mel is brilliantly brutal in the role of Porter. 4) The studio re-worked structure and ending is much much better. 5) The voice over works great and is very amusing. 6) A nice gesture but his version ain't as good.

What's my point? Watch the theatrical version first, then the directors cut (for the different colour grading and alternate ending).

PS Wonderful blu-ray this at a bargain price.
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Remaking a classic is never a good idea at the best of times, but when Brian Helgeland's remake of Point Blank ended up being shelved, heavily re-edited, rewritten (by Terry Hayes) and reshot by another director (production designer John Myhre) to make it more `accessible' to an audience after committing the triple sins of having a hero who doesn't get the money and doesn't get the girl and - worst of all - having a character kill the dog, it must have seemed like an out and out suicidal one. So much of the film's last third was dumped that half the footage in the film's trailer (and even its poster image) were nowhere to be found in the finished film itself by the time it made it to the theatres. Somehow the version of Payback that did get released turned out to be both surprisingly good and more surprisingly commercially successful, but now that, eight years later, Helgeland's finally had the chance to restore his version for DVD, the only response to the theatrical version's tagline `No more Mr Nice Guy' is "Oh yeah?"

This time Mel Gibson's Porter doesn't have a voice over to excuse his actions, and they're not diluted by focus groups either. So he steals from a homeless guy? So what, it's not as if the guy is faking a disability in this cut, he just wants his money. So he asks a barman for information by breaking his hand? So what, he doesn't have time for subtlety, he just wants his money. So his wife O.D.s after he beats her up? So what, she shot him anyway, he just wants his money. So he kills a handcuffed heavy after disarming him? So what, he didn't like the guy, he just wants his money. In fact, Porter doesn't care what happens to anybody as long as he gets his money. The only thing that makes him the hero is that the guy who has his money is even worse than he is.

Unlike most Director's Cuts, this really is a very different version of the film: while the first hour has more or less the same structure as the theatrical version, the last third is a significant departure. Running some ten minutes less than the theatrical version, there's no convoluted kidnapping subplot, no Kris Kristofferson character in this version, only a couple of shots of prominently-billed John Glover at the end, though sadly no Angie Dickinson either: although originally providing a link with John Boorman's film as the voice of the syndicate boss in Helgeland's first cut, for some reason she's here replaced by Sally Kellerman on speakerphone. Instead we get a much better realized and rather more organic finale at a transit station that brings the film to a more convincing conclusion and is more attuned to the character's strengths and weaknesses than the kind of plot contrivances that gave the theatrical version its more explosive resolution. Oh yes, and everything doesn't look blue anymore.

There are differences from the first cut that Helgeland submitted that was floating around as a bootleg for years - the fire truck diversion to get into the outfit hotel and the infamous elevator scene where Porter blinds a henchman are missing, while this time round the money doesn't end up in the hands of a homeless guy - but while it's a shame these aren't included on the DVD, it's a leaner, meaner movie, playing it down and dirty (none of Boorman's "Is he really dead?" ambiguity here) and on its own terms. Is it a great film or a lost masterpiece? No, just a good movie with a heart of darkness underneath the studio sheen, but that's good enough for me.

Paramount's DVD is a good package, with a three-part documentary on the making and unmaking of the film (with Mel Gibson surprisingly prominent among the new interviews) and an interview with author Donald E. Westlake that run longer than the main feature itself, as well as an audio commentary by Helgeland.
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on 11 October 2000
I thought this movie was brilliant. Mel is a world weary bad boy who just wants his just desserts - no more , no less. My favourite line was when the dominatrix told him she had a few minutes to spare. Mel looked totally disinterested and said 'Go boil an egg'. Great!
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Remaking a classic is never a good idea at the best of times, but when Brian Helgeland's remake of Point Blank ended up being shelved, heavily re-edited, rewritten (by Terry Hayes) and reshot by another director (production designer John Myhre) to make it more `accessible' to an audience after committing the triple sins of having a hero who doesn't get the money and doesn't get the girl and - worst of all - having a character kill the dog, it must have seemed like an out and out suicidal one. So much of the film's last third was dumped that half the footage in the film's trailer (and even its poster image) were nowhere to be found in the finished film itself by the time it made it to the theatres. Somehow the version of Payback that did get released turned out to be both surprisingly good and more surprisingly commercially successful, but now that, eight years later, Helgeland's finally had the chance to restore his version for DVD, the only response to the theatrical version's tagline `No more Mr Nice Guy' is "Oh yeah?"

This time Mel Gibson's Porter doesn't have a voice over to excuse his actions, and they're not diluted by focus groups either. So he steals from a homeless guy? So what, it's not as if the guy is faking a disability in this cut, he just wants his money. So he asks a barman for information by breaking his hand? So what, he doesn't have time for subtlety, he just wants his money. So his wife O.D.s after he beats her up? So what, she shot him anyway, he just wants his money. So he kills a handcuffed heavy after disarming him? So what, he didn't like the guy, he just wants his money. In fact, Porter doesn't care what happens to anybody as long as he gets his money. The only thing that makes him the hero is that the guy who has his money is even worse than he is.

Unlike most Director's Cuts, this really is a very different version of the film: while the first hour has more or less the same structure as the theatrical version, the last third is a significant departure. Running some ten minutes less than the theatrical version, there's no convoluted kidnapping subplot, no Kris Kristofferson character in this version, only a couple of shots of prominently-billed John Glover at the end, though sadly no Angie Dickinson either: although originally providing a link with John Boorman's film as the voice of the syndicate boss in Helgeland's first cut, for some reason she's here replaced by Sally Kellerman on speakerphone. Instead we get a much better realized and rather more organic finale at a transit station that brings the film to a more convincing conclusion and is more attuned to the character's strengths and weaknesses than the kind of plot contrivances that gave the theatrical version its more explosive resolution. Oh yes, and everything doesn't look blue anymore.

There are differences from the first cut that Helgeland submitted that was floating around as a bootleg for years - the fire truck diversion to get into the outfit hotel and the infamous elevator scene where Porter blinds a henchman are missing, while this time round the money doesn't end up in the hands of a homeless guy - but while it's a shame these aren't included on the DVD, it's a leaner, meaner movie, playing it down and dirty (none of Boorman's "Is he really dead?" ambiguity here) and on its own terms. Is it a great film or a lost masterpiece? No, just a good movie with a heart of darkness underneath the studio sheen, but that's good enough for me.

Warner's UK Blu-ray is an especially goof package good package. While Paramount's US Blu-ray offers the director's cut with a three-part documentary on the making and unmaking of the film (with Mel Gibson surprisingly prominent among the new interviews) and an interview with author Donald E. Westlake that run longer than the main feature itself, as well as an audio commentary by Helgeland, Warners have included all that and the reworked 1999 theatrical version and the cast interviews that were included on the DVD release of that as well.
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on 30 July 2010
Strangely enough it is a gangster film full of faithlessness and hypocrisy, hatred and greed and yet the good guys turn out to be a gangster and a prostitute. A hold up turns too small for one of the two gangsters who wants to get rid of the other and uses this other's girlfriend to do the bad work in his own back. But in this world there is always a comeback and then a payback and the payback is always proportional to the distance to catch up on the comeback journey, and when it is near death that was the starting point of this comeback you can be sure the payback will implicate a lot of money and a lot of metal. And it does and it is not that easy to go to the top of the drug dealing business, and that sure is not easy and there are many hurdles. We wonder why he got down in front of the last one, or is it a way to really trap the boss. But he is also a very creative hit man in his come back and he pays back a lot with the metal, explosive and guns of those he shot down or he wants to bring down. He is flexible, adaptable, opportunistic and his principle is not to hit higher than the top but to hit the top just to get his due and he gets it and he does not have to share in the end. That's what is good in this gangster film. The gangster really gets our hearts in his hands because he is just asking for justice from his fellow gangsters who don't seem to have any sense of justice, nor the few cops he comes across either. New York always looks good under this light with whizzing bullets in the sky.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID
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on 13 February 2003
Payback is a gritty, intense and slow-paced action movie. Mel Gibson plays Porter, a guy who will stop at nothing for his payback. The plot just seemed to get better and better with more twists as the movie progressed. Mel Gibson is great as the ruthless Porter, but equally worthy of mention are William Devane's performance as Carter, the crime boss, and Lucy Liu as a dominatrix. Incredible as the acting may be, the action scenes are very well done. The movie is of a very old style. Blue tint throughout the film with a classic soundtrack. You really have to be in the mood for this one. Overall, Payback is a very good movie, enjoyable and well worth watching.
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This is not an out and out remake of John Boorman's 1967 offering Point Blank, the structure is different from the 67 film, and where Point Blank is a dark psychological thriller that is rightly regarded as being towards the top of the neo-noir tree, this Brian Helgeland directed film really should be seen as a different interpretation of Donald E. Westlake's novel The Hunter.

Mel Gibson plays tough as nails thief Porter, who is double crossed, shot, and then left for dead by his wife Lynn (Deborah Kara Unger) and his partner in crime Val Resnick (Gregg Henry). We are then taken on a dark journey as Porter sets out to reclaim the $70.000 that he was shot and almost killed for. He wants no more, no less than what he is owed, and he literally will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. Including taking on the Chicago mob organisation known as The Outfit.

Payback is a mean and violent movie, it is unrelenting in its willingness to keep nastiness at the top of the story. The film is full of flawed and vile people, even Porter himself, the closest we have to a (anti) hero has badness coursing through his veins, he is a dislikable killer, the film is about exactly what the tag-line suggests, Get Ready To Root For The Bad Guy! As Porter trawls through this part of Chicago, he will come across bent coppers, drug pushers/addicts/runners, Asian gangsters, prostitutes, violence fetishists and the slimy chain of command of the Chicago mob. Nobody here is about to cheer you up.

The style of the film owes its being to classic film noir and the 1970s hard crime movies led by Dirty Harry and Death Wish. The makers had originally wanted to film it in black and white, but instead went for a de-saturation technique, a bleach by-pass process that really puts a grim grey and blue sheen on the visuals. The thumping score is tonally correct, while a good sound track also helps (always nice to see hear Voodoo Chile), and the use of voice over narration by Porter evokes the classic noir period and works a treat because it's not over done.

The film strongly relies on Mel Gibson to bring menace and a measure of sympathy to the vengeful Porter, and it is with much credit that he manages to achieve both these things skilfully. He is backed by a strong support cast, Maria Bello admirable in her big shift from TV to film - Lucy Liu hilarious and stunningly sexy as a dominatrix and Gregg Henry is just wild. The Outfit chain of command features William Devane, James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson, all slick and welcome additions, even if they are all under used; though this is more by narrative necessity than film making decisions. Bill Duke, David Paymer and Jack Conley fill out the impressive roll call of scum-bags.

Violent, laconic and darkly comic as well, Payback is one of the best remakes around, a neo-noir essential in fact. 8.5/10

Footnote: Director Helgeland released his own Directors Cut in 2006. Unhappy with the original version, he changed some of the structure and visual style and made it shorter by ten minutes. It's inferior to the 100 minute original cut in my opinion, losing much of the noir stylisations, but the last quarter is different and will (does) certainly appeal to others.
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