Paycheck is a 2003 American action crime drama film directed by John Woo and produced by John Woo, John Davis, Terence Chang and Michael Hackett. The screenplay was written by Dean Gerogaris and is based on the story ‘Paycheck‘ written by Philip K. Dick in 1953.
Rated: PG-13 (movie contains intense action violence and brief language)
Run Time: 1h 59min
Release Date: December 25, 2003 (USA)
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Romance
Director: John Woo
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Budget: $61 Million
Box Office: $96 Million
Paycheck is the story of Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck), a master of reverse engineering who gets paid by large corporations to crack the secrets of their competitors’ products and how they work. His latest job took 2 months to complete and he was paid handsomely. However, in exchange for the large paycheck, he also agrees to have his memory of all the work on the project wiped from his brain.
Jennings is the best in the business and is approached by James Rethrick (Aaron Eckhart), tech billionaire and head of Allcom, who wants to discuss a huge potential job opportunity with a very large payday. Without divulging anything about the project itself, Rethrick promises him it will probably earn him eight figures but could take 2 to 3 years to complete. In order to learn more, Michael must contractually agree to take the job before he would find out anything about the actual project itself. He would also have to agree to a complete memory wipe back to the project start date to protect the secrets of Allcom. Standard procedure in Michael’s business but that is more than anyone has ever wiped which was incredibly risky.
Michael weighs the trade off of the large paycheck in exchange for losing up to 3 years of his life and memories, maybe more if something goes wrong. However, eight figures is hard to refuse and Jennings agrees and begins immediately. A marker is implanted in his cortex to pinpoint the start of the project which will be used as the reference point for his memory wipe upon completion. The contract states he must stay at Allcom for the duration of the project and also must turn in all of his personal effects to be returned when the project is completed.
Michael completes the job and goes to have his memory erased and collect his paycheck and his personal effects. Once his memory is erased, he finds out the project took 3 years and he earned $90 million dollars during his time on the job. When he goes to claim it and his stuff, he discovers that before his memory wipe he had waived his rights to the money and rather than the belongings he had checked in, he was handed an envelope with miscellaneous and random objects inside. Confused and angry with no memory of what had transpired, he is escorted out of Allcom.
Soon after, Jennings is arrested by the FBI who state he committed some act of treason and murder while working at Allcom. He remembers nothing. But, while in custody, he manages to escape using some of the items in the envelope he was given. Now he is a fugitive being chased by the FBI while at the same time, Rethrick is also after him and Michael soon realizes that the fate of the entire world might be in his hands.
“Look, if we know anything, we know that time travel’s not possible. Einstein proved that. right?” – Shorty
“Time ‘travel’, yes. But Einstein was very clear that he believed time viewing, theoretically, could be accomplished.” – Michael Jennings
“Michael Jennings is not a super agent, he’s an engineer. Yet, somehow he managed to escape from a double-locked room. How? Was it fate? No. Fate was on our side. That means someone who knew, changed something.” – James Rethrick
“Let’s take a look at the future before we destroy this thing.” – Michael Jennings
“If you show someone their future, they have no future.” – Michael Jennings
Official Movie Trailer
Ben Affleck as Michael Jennings
Aaron Eckhart as Jimmy Rethrick
Uma Thurman as Rachel Porter
Paul Giamatti as Shorty
Colm Feore as Wolfe
Joe Morton as Agent Dodge
Michael C. Hall as Agent Klein
Kathryn Morris as Rita Dunne
Ivana Milicevic as Maya / Rachel
Peter Friedman as Attorney General Brown
Michelle Harrison as Jane