Friday, June 08, 2007


I was generally disappointed with Payback when it came out. The story of the extensive changes and re-shoots were in the air and bootlegs were circulating. I was moderately curious about the bootlegs, but never enough to be bothered, especially when the buzz on that cut was that it was just as problematic, merely in different ways.

But I was easily interested enough to rent a copy of the new Payback: Straight Up DVD, and I'm glad I was. This brand new cut definitely solves the bigger problems with the original, mostly the inconsistent tone, especially with the main character himself.

Interestingly, the documentary about the making of this new cut suggested to me that the original director's cut, presumably the source of the previous bootlegs, may have been even more inconsistent than the theatrical version. This one, however, is quite sharp. It also eases up, and in places takes away, the bleached blue look of the original, which was pretty fresh in 1999, but looks terrible and trite eight years later... although moviemakers still seem intent on making more and more movies with that look.

The DVD also had an interesting interview with Donald E. Westlake, who wrote the book The Hunter (under the pseudonym Richard Stark) upon which the book is based. He discusses the series of Parker novels and their history on film. It's quite interesting, although it stops suspiciously short once it comes to what seem like introductory thoughts on Payback itself.

Mind you, this story is brilliantly told in John Boorman's Point Blank, and those looking to discover this story are encouraged to look for the novel or that movie for an introduction. It is interesting to see this movie finally work as a nice, entertaining thriller, though.

And when is someone going to put The Outfit, based on The Outfit by Richard Stark, out on DVD? After reading Marty McKee's review, in John Flynn, R.I.P. and now Westlake's praise of Robert Duvall's performance, I'm more than a little anxious to see this one.


Jeremy Richey said...

I've been meaning to post on the new "Payback" dvd over at Moon in the Gutter but haven't yet.
"Point Blank" is a real favorite of mine so I was real surprised to find that I liked "Payback" when it originally came out. I didn't think it was a great film but there was something about it I really liked. The new disc is really great I think and it is fascinating to compare the two versions.
I will be posting on it eventually, while still not a perfect film it is one that I keep returning to.

Damian said...

The theatrical cut of Payback is a movie that I really like and the new cut, while not necessarily superior, is not exactly inferior either. It's just a whole different movie utlizing some of the same footage. Personally, I think both versions are quite good, but neither is truly great. I confess I've yet to see Point Blank but it's on my list of films to see... a list that seems to keep getting longer rather than shorter.

Neil Sarver said...

Thanks for the comments.

As it goes, on Netflix, I rated the theatrical version at 3 stars - y'know, years ago when I was rating stuff - and I ended up rating the new cut 4 stars. If I were rating on a broader scale, the theatrical cut would have been on the low end of the 3 star range and the new cut would be mid-to-high 4 star range, so I'd say it was a distinct improvement.

Marty McKee said...

Keep your eyes on Turner Classic Movies, as THE OUTFIT will probably show again sometime. Oddly, the TCM print is full-frame, for some reason, so there's another reason a DVD is imperative.

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