MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -1

Paycheck is based on a story by sci-fi author Philip K. Dick (Minority Report, Total Recall). Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) is a brilliant contractor who helps companies reverse-engineer and steal their competitors latest technologies. The only catch is that, before receiving each paycheck, Michaels memory is erased to protect the company from blackmail and prosecution. When an old friend proposes that he take a 10-figure payment for a three-year project, Michael reluctantly accepts, imagining that it will be his last job. But after the memory wipe, Michael is dismayed to find that, during the final days of the project, he forfeited his paycheck and instead sent himself an envelope filled with a few personal items. Angry and confused, Michael and his girlfriend, Rachel (Uma Thurman), attempt to discover the dark secret that would motivate him to give up so much money in exchange for a few trinkets.

Not as well executed as Minority Report, Paycheck fails to evoke much emotional connection between movie viewers and characters. Instead, it examines a few interesting ideas, which will attract avid sci-fi fans but wont ultimately win critical acclaim. Moreover, the ideas explored are some of the same ones examined in previous films from Philip K. Dick with similar special effects. The critical viewer will also notice a few plot holes and implausibilities that mar the overall effect of the movie. After watching this film, audiences may consider the nature of fate and free choice as well as the potential effects of knowing the future. Paycheck suggests that knowing the future would be detrimental to human existence. Additionally, the main character is forced to consider the value of time and memories as he trades years of his life for money. The film ultimately earns a negative acceptability rating for language, sexual content and violence.

Preview Reviewer: Shaun Daugherty

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: Few (3) times strong (s-word 3)

Profanity: Few (3) times moderate (G 1); strong (J 2)

Violence: Many times moderate (men struggle and hit each other, several gunfights with some deaths, car chase with several crashes, car explodes, other explosions, several fistfights)

Sex: Once mild (woman begins to remove clothing, revealing her bra with intercourse implied)

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Once mild (woman in bed under the covers with her boyfriend approaching her implying a long-term sexual relationship)

Drugs: Few (3) times mild (cigarettes and cigars used twice, injection used to eliminate memories)

Other: Discussion of fate and free will, discussion of the value of time and memories, several New Age and eastern ideas and images, palm reading briefly referenced, implication that without consequences there are no moral responsibilities, depiction of theft of intellectual property)

Running Time: 110 minutes
Intended Audience: adults and teens

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.