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Payback - The Director's Cut (Special Collector's Edition)

3.9 out of 5 stars 1,767 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Mel Gibson, Maria Bello. Get ready to root for the bad guy when a routine heist turns into a double-cross and one man's left for dead. When he survives, he goes up against the mob, the Chinese Mafia, corrupt cops, a sniveling crook, and one big bad crime boss for his share of the take. Brian Helgeland's darker, noirish version of the 1999 original, itself a remake of Point Blank (1967), which was adapted from the novel The Hunter." 2007/color/90 min/NR.

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

Special Features

  • "Same Story, Different Movie - Creating Payback: The Director's Cut"
  • "The Hunter: A Conversation with Author Donald Westlake"
  • On Location In Chicago
  • On Set In Los Angeles

Product Details

  • Actors: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, David Paymer, Bill Duke
  • Directors: Brian Helgeland
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Surround Sound, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: April 10, 2007
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,767 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000M3439O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,935 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Payback - The Director's Cut (Special Collector's Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
For me the first version of Payback, interfered with by the hand of (Mad)Mel is the much superior version of this dark, violent and gritty movie. This feels like to me to be another case of Superman II syndrome. Film fanatics harp on for years about how great it could have been had it not been interfered with and then when we finally see a version as close as possible to the directors intended vision it comes as somewhat of a disappointment. I bought Payback:-Directors Cut DVD unseen based on the glowing reviews here on Amazon but I now wish I had simply rented first instead of wasting my money. For me, the last third just felt flat. The third act rolled along slowly reducing pace as it went until finally coming to a gentle stop. Porter got his money, but for the audience the sense of achievement felt for what Porter went through in the original to get this money is now gone. I'm sure that had I not seen the original Payback, I still would feel the same way towards the third act in this version. I can also say for certain that this version suffers greatly by the exclusion of Kris Kristofferson as the original Bronson who brought a great sense of villainy to the role as a much larger, threatening character who also builds the anticipation of a confrontation between Bronson and Porter. In this version Bronson is nothing more than a woman's voice on a speaker and even at that injects nothing into the character. As a result she does not come across as someone who would be tough enough to have risen to the top of an organisation such as The Syndicate. Gibson in his version added a voice over monolog, while I can't say that I missed it from this directors cut, given the choice, I would rather have it in than out so I'd score Gibson on that one also.Read more ›
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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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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