I was watching some of “Paycheck” at the Netflix web site, where it is available for instant viewing, and gave up when the memory-wiped Affleck character figures out why his pre-wiped self mailed to himself the envelope of seemingly pointless items. He did so because he had invented a future-viewing machine and wanted to save himself from being murdered in the future by his greedy theoretical-physics-stealing bosses; successive scans of his own future using the future-viewing machine had unveiled how various persons would be trying to kill him and how one or another pointless item in the envelope would enable him to foil each successive attempt (you had to be there). I’m sorry if these details constitute spoilers but no I’m not.
Similarwise, our hero prior to the memory wipe forfeited his hundred-million-dollar payoff the better to motivate his memory-wiped self to attend to the pointless items, these being the only sort of murder-deflecting thingies that the pre-mem-wiped version of self could smuggle out of the Evil Corporation without provoking suspicion.
So it’s been a mildly interesting puzzle being tackled in a glossy futuristic setting up to this point in the movie. But then it lapses into mostly just chase scenes and chase-scene music, which will ultimately lead to struggles to gain control of the future-viewing machine and so forth. I don’t remember exactly how it all gets resolved, but I do remember that it isn’t worth re-watching the second half to refurbish my recollection.
Not that the first half of the flick is so great, but at least it’s watchable. You learn about how, in the future, the reverse-engineering engineers must agree to let their memories be wiped by the Evil Corporations, and so forth. And you observe the baffled Affleck character slowly figure out how he has already figured out how to reverse-engineer his fate. Okay. But then it all curdles. If you can’t watch a movie a second time in its entirety several years after you saw it the first time, then it’s not a good movie. That’s by definition.
One should be spared a full original viewing as well. Can’t movie makers when they have produced a movie like this install a kind of public service advisory in the middle of the movie, “FYI, It’s All Downhill From Here, Just Chase Scenes and Chase-Scene Music, So Forth, with the Ultimate Revelations Not Really Worth the Wait; You’ve Basically Gotten the Gist, Leave Now If You Have Better Things to Do”? Because halfway through the movie, you can see the future of the movie even without benefit of a 500-billion-dollar future-viewing machine, even if you don’t remember it.