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Payback - Straight Up - The Director's Cut [Blu-ray] (1999)

Mel Gibson , Gregg Henry , Brian Helgeland  |  R |  Blu-ray
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (437 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, David Paymer, Bill Duke
  • Directors: Brian Helgeland
  • Writers: Brian Helgeland, Donald E. Westlake, Terry Hayes
  • Producers: Bruce Davey, Stephen McEveety
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Blu-ray, Color, Director's Cut, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: June 3, 2008
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (437 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MTFFV8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,127 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Payback - Straight Up - The Director's Cut [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In Brian Helgeland's new director's cut of the film, Mel Gibson portrays Porter, a career criminal bent on revenge after his partners in a street heist pump metal into him and take off with his $70,000 cut. Bad move, thugs. Because if you plan to double-cross Porter, you'd better make sure he's dead. Porter resurfaces, wading into a lurid urban underworld of syndicate kingpins, cops on the take, sniveling informants and deadly gangs. Porter wants his money back. And the way he sets out to get is assures that, from beginning to heart pounding end, Payback pays off big.

There were reasons writer-director Brian Helgeland's cut of Payback was dismissed by distributors Paramount and Warner Bros., then heavily re-shot and re-tooled by Mel Gibson's production company, Icon Entertainment. Those reasons are explained in detail by Gibson, Helgeland, and others in the special features of Payback: The Director's Cut (Special Collector's Edition). Among them: Helgeland's version was too dark. America wasn't ready in 1999 to see Gibson play an unapologetic, 1970s-style antihero who might not get exactly what he wants. Audiences didn't have the patience to wait for answers to their story questions. A dog dies. (A big no-no.) All of these comments make sound, practical sense. But here's the bottom line: Helgeland's cut, perhaps even a bit more disciplined and taut (according to Payback’s editor, Kevin Stitt) than it was in 1999, is a serious movie with an organic tone and logic that makes the film look the way it was meant to look: as a neo-noir film for adults. The theatrical release of Payback, by contrast, was and is silly and vulgar, self-sabotaging, pointlessly vicious, and perversely jaunty. It is very much like--deliberately like--the Lethal Weapon series. The Director’s Cut makes clear that’s not at all what Helgeland had in mind.

Kudos to Gibson and Icon for giving Helgeland a chance to restore his film and get it out on this DVD. But a look at both versions (this disc does not include the theatrical cut) back-to-back can certainly make one's head spin. Icon’s revisions in the original release show little faith in a contemporary audience’s ability to discern much about a story or mood or character from spare but telling details. That film relies on crass swatches of voiceover narration, cute inserts, added scenes, and hipster tunes on the soundtrack. All of that was designed to tell an audience how to feel rather than encourage a cinematic experience encountered with an open heart and mind. Worst of all is a specious third act nakedly built around an obligatory Gibson-gets-tortured sequence, leading the film to a lazy, comforting conclusion. The Director’s Cut eschews all of that. Gibson’s character, Porter (based on the central character in the novel "The Hunter," written by Donald E. Westlake under the pseudonym Richard Stark), is a man returning from the brink of death with nothing but his identity and the memory of something (an almost-nominal amount of money) taken from him. His iron determination, his capacity for brutality and inducing fear, and his survival instinct make him anything but warm and cuddly. It's his few ties to the past--especially an interrupted relationship with a call girl (Maria Bello)--that humanize him. One doesn't have to like Porter; one just accepts him and follows his journey in an honest, unmitigated fashion. That’s exactly what Helgeland does, and his cleaner, leaner, smarter cut is instantly rewarding for its uncompromising, undistracted toughness. Special features include a documentary about the film’s history, and a wonderful interview with Westlake. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alternate version worth taking a look at! May 18, 2007
Format:HD DVD|Verified Purchase
If you're a fan of Payback at all, I think it's imperative that you watch this version not only because of how differently it plays out but because it is a great opportunity to see how a director's vision can be compromised by the studio system.

From the very beginning, you know you're in different waters when the tone of the film settles in. They do away with the voice over and there is far less humor in this version. Instead of the blue tinted palatte of the original, this film has a more lush and natural quality to it. The character of Porter (Mel Gibson) in this version is even more brutal and cold blooded, which is a big reason as to why the film was asked to be recut by the studio. I watched both versions back to back and I think I can say that this new version is almost like watching an entirely different movie. I like them both equally and this new version really adds to the experience.

That being said, this HD-DVD has several great supplementary features that should make your day. One in particular is a half hour doc that goes into why Brian Helgeland's original cut was rejected by the studio and contains insightful comments by key members of the cast and crew, including Mel Gibson himself who I have to give credit to for being involved with restoring this version and giving a genuinely humbling interview. The picture on this disc looks great and the sound really kicks in during scenes of gunfire and general action. I strongly recommend it, especially if you like the original cut!
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mel Gibson's lost kick-butt movie found April 17, 2007
The best action movie I've seen this year isn't in theaters. You may think you've seen it, but probably haven't. "Payback" is back, this time the way the director envisioned the film, not the suits. "You don't make pictures for the elite," producer/star Mel Gibson says today, explaining why Paramount and Warner Bros. took the noirish gangland movie away from freshman director Brian Helgeland. After 10 days of reshoots, a new final (third) act was tacked on, voiceover was added a la "Blade Runner" and Kris Kristofferson walked on as a new major character. Audiences still were amazed how brutal the Gibson character was when they had to "Get ready to root for the bad guy," as the marketing had it.

Same old story about artists and Hollywood, but this time came a happier ending. In 2005, Paramount and Gibson gave Helgeland another shot at the film, eight years after its release. The tapes turned up missing, so Helgeland and his editor recut the film using film. And so we have "Payback: Straight Up -- the Director's Cut."

Now, this is one hard-boiled movie. Gibson plays a criminal who comes back to town looking for the partner who stole half his loot, and his wife, following a heist. Along the way he single-handedly takes on both the syndicate and Asian drug dealers, slugs a woman (a scene the studios cut), and stirs up a John Woo-like shootout as the bloody finale. Supporting actors Lucy Liu, Gregg Henry and Maria Bello all do fine work.

There are multiple DVD extras, including a director's commentary, but the one to catch is the half-hour "Same Story -- Different Movie," all about the film's resurrection. Audio and video are sharp on the DVD -- and better on high definition discs, although in places the colors seem a bit too jacked up for a gritty, bleach-bypass film. "Payback" comes from the same book as "Point Blank" with Lee Marvin, an even better film from 1969.
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48 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good movie done went and got great! April 10, 2007
By Jason
Like one review has already stated maybe one reason this movie didnt recieve all the glory it deserved is maybe american movie audience wasnt ready to see Mel Gibson in such a dark roll,thats my take on it to.Now with this unrated directors version its even better,gone is blue filter over the picture replaced with a remasterd version which colors are vibrant,crisp,its really has a great picture quality,its more vilolent and to the point,gone is Mel's voice over(which also makes it better),its got a completely new musical score,basicly the story is the same but its told diffrent with a completly new ending.There's also really great special features that includes a 30min piece on why and how this directors cut was made.I'm glad the director finally got his movie and way to go paramount this is not some hoax special edition like so many others its a diffrent kind of film a special edition worth picking up for sure...way to go Paramount
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Payback Pays Off January 13, 2000
What a straightforward, action packed flick this was with no confusing sidebar twists or excess baggage plots. This is the first film I've seen Gibson portray a character only described as a good-bad guy. This time he has the upperhand (most of the time) and does a bit of the damage control; It's always the real bad guys that get that privelage. Without giving away too much of the film's minor portion of comical slapstick, there is one scene where Gibson's character Porter is repeatedly slapped in the back of the head by one of the movie's shadier characters (this is a funny scene, especially when America remembers a time when Mel was US Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive in the past). His dead panned expressions and deep serious voice let the bad guys know he is not kidding around. Lucy Liu, from Ally McBeal fame, turns in one of the most kinkiest performances without actually using any nudity ! She adds quite a sensational spark to the movie. All in all, from the previous mixed reviews, people should take it for what it is; A typical action/comedy/drama flick done Mel Gibson style !Mel's antics rate top 5 stars and the story rates 3 stars. It was also a real hoot to see some old Hollywood heavyweights: James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, and William DeVane. The only question is still why all that for 70 grand ?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I like both the theatrical and Director's Cut versions
I like both the theatrical and Director's Cut versions. This version is more direct, gritty and the Directors original vision.
Published 10 days ago by M. Attebury
4.0 out of 5 stars Lee Harvey would be proud
Not the version I had seen, didn't realize how much they redid for the theatrical version. Not going to say it was better or worse, but different. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Micah W.
3.0 out of 5 stars Same Players Different Ending
Good Movie... however, I liked the original much better. This version is dark and not as fulfilling in the end.
Published 22 days ago by High Hurdles
4.0 out of 5 stars Never a barrower nor a lender be.
Entertaining with black comedy overtones. If people enjoy Mel Gibson this will not disappoint.
Published 24 days ago by Robert woodland
1.0 out of 5 stars buy the theatre version
The theatrical version is better. I will be selling this shortly. If anyone wants to buy this, i would suggest buying the blu-ray set that offers both versions instead of just the... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Jackson H Smythe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the best ever getting revenge movies.
Published 1 month ago by David Lindgren
2.0 out of 5 stars Director'cut vs original version
Don't get me wrong, I love this movie, but I was unaware that there was more than one version of this movie, and was expecting to receive the more mainstream version, but it was... Read more
Published 1 month ago by David Graves
2.0 out of 5 stars Director's Cut is a gross disappointment. The movie version is tops
Do not understand modifying the movie version to the Director's Cut. Director's Cut is a gross disappointment. The movie version is tops.
Published 1 month ago by Porter Bankhead
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It arrived today and it plays perfectly!! Thanks!!
Published 1 month ago by Anthony Woods
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my favorite films.
Published 1 month ago by Ron Rossmann
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