Payback: It’s matter of principle

Release Date : June 20, 1980
Genres: Action, Crime, Drama
Duration: 1h 40m
Rating: 3/5
Director Brian Helgeland
WriterBrian Helgeland, Terry Hayes
Produced byBruce Davey
StarsMel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, David Paymer
Cinematography              Ericson Core
Edited by             Kevin Stitt
Music by              Chris Boardman, Scott Stambler (Director’s cut)
Production Design byJohn Myhre
Production companiesIcon Productions

“Be grateful for what you get, rule number one.” – Porter
“Not many men know what their life’s worth. I do. Seventy grand.
That’s what they took from me. And that’s what I was going to get back.” – Porter

What is it about

Payback is a 1999 American neo-noir action thriller film written and directed by Brian Helgeland in his directorial debut, and starring Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, and David Paymer. It is based on the novel The Hunter by Donald E. Westlake using the pseudonym Richard Stark, which had earlier been adapted into the 1967 film noir classic Point Blank, directed by John Boorman and starring Lee Marvin.

After a successful heist, Porter is left for dead. Once he recovers, he seeks vengeance and wants his share of the money. How much? It doesn’t matter to him. Who is pitted against? Same answer. Will he get out alive? Same answer.

Thumbs up

Mel Gibson
Smart Dialogues

Thumbs down

Unnecessary violence

Final verdict

The movie doesn’t disappoint a Mel Gibson fan and provides just about enough to sustain the attention. The role is tailor made for him, and his screen presence allows him to steer through both good and mundane scenes.

Smart writing, decent production design, cinematography and music makes the movie an engaging fare. The blu-ray has a director’s cut and a nice interview with Richard Stark (Donald E.Westlake).

Few tidbits from the bonus features

  1. Writer Richard Stark had a big issue with the name ‘Parker’ as he had to constantly figure out how to use in mundane situations like ‘Parker parked his car’ etc.
    • In his own words, ‘Dialogue comes first, then characters, and finally situations.’
  2. As per Richard Stark, he mentions that Robert Duvall came the closest in terms of Parker’s portrayal in The Outfit, while acknowledge the fabulous job of Lee Marvin in The Point Blank.
  3. The movie blu-ray has both director’s cut and theatrical cut versions, both are not bad actually.

Management Concepts/ Lessons/ References

“When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.”
― The Ugly, ‘The Good The Bad The Ugly’
“People who preach inner drive are dreamers with a lot of ideas and a lot of talk, and zero production.”
Tim Grover, Author of ‘Relentless

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