Payback was directed by Brian Helgeland and written Brian Helgeland (screenplay) and Terry Hayes (screenplay), (theatrical cut). Cinematography was by Ericson Core, and music was by
The film stars Mel Gibson as Porter, Gregg Henry as Val Resnick, Maria Bello as Rosie, Lucy Liu as Pearl, Deborah Kara Unger as Lynn Porter, David Paymer as Arthur Stegman, Bill Duke as Detective Hicks, Jack Conley as Detective Leary, John Glover as Phil, William Devane as Carter, James Coburn as Fairfax, Kris Kristofferson as Bronson (Theatrical Cut), Sally Kellerman as Bronson (Director's Cut), Trevor St. John as Johnny Bronson (Theatrical Cut), Freddy Rodriguez as Valet, Manu Tupou as Pawnbroker.
The film was shot during September/November 1997, in Chicago and Los Angeles and it inexplicably has a short sequence of the Queensboro Bridge and Long Island City. Though no city is ever mentioned in the film we might as well call it Noirsville.
|Queensboro Bridge & East River|
I've seen both versions. The best film version in my opinion would be roughly, the theatrical release with the narration and blue tint up to the killing of Carter (exorcising most of the Lucy Liu/Tong revenge angle) then go with the director's cut (but keeping the blue tint) to the ambiguous end. I'd keep the beating also.
|Val Resnick (Henry)|
|Lynn Porter (Unger)|
The film looks great in a Noir-ish way. It homages beautifully classic noir with it voice over narration, the heavy use of stylistics and locations that evoke cinematic memory. Gregg Henry is impressive he evokes the spirit of Dan Duryea.Unfortunately the film goes somewhat slowly off the rails with various scenarios, i.e. Porter cutting a gas line under a an 80s Lincoln which would be physically impossible to do, you can't squeeze under that type of car, no way, and the unneeded extraneous additions of dominatrix Pearl (Liu ) and the Chinese Tong machine gun battle where it veers off into Action film and touches on Tarantino land, when it didn't have to, a shame. The majority of Films Noir were simple stories when you overload then with action sequences you tip the film past the noir tipping point it becomes more of the Action Genre, for me anyway.
|Pearl (Liu) Porter (Gibson)|
Give it a fair shake your personal noir tuning fork may accept it more than mine does. Watch also the Film Soleil adaptation of the novel, Point Blank (1967), for a comparison, same story set in California. I haven't seen Chow Yun-fat's Full Contact (1992). Screencaps are from the Paramount DVD. 6.5-7/10