Payback: Straight Up – Review

Any of you remember Payback? I saw it years ago when it came out, and now it’s back for a Director’s Cut. Why should you care? Read the blurb:

Payback is bad guy Porter’s MO after his wife and partner steal his heist money and leave him for dead — or so they think. Director Brian Helgeland was cut from the project upon negative reactions to his originally dark, more violent action thriller. Seven years later, he was allowed to re-edit and re-score the film for this gritty director’s cut with a different ending.

Sound awesome? Yeah, I thought so, too. The problem was I had no recollection of the original cut. As this one went on, I remembered a few scenes, but for the most part, this was like watching a completely new movie.

Turns out, this is a completely new movie (I cheated and looked up the differences). Most Director’s Cuts just add a scene or two, but this has new music, a new look (the bleach effect is gone), and a new villain. Kris Kristofferson’s character is gone and several scenes change because of it. The ending is completely different. It’s not even close to what it was.

So how is it? Well, it’s hard to say. I think it’s a better version of the film, but I’ll forever be comparing revenge flicks to Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, and Lady Vengeance. All three of those are brilliant because they cut deep into your emotions. I had no emotional response to Payback: Straight-Up. I didn’t really care if Mel got his money back so I’ll probably forget this version just like I did with the first.

If you’re interested in this one, I’d suggest watching both cuts back to back. I’ve also heard the special features on Straight-Up are really good, but I found that out after I’d sent it back.

If any of you see this, let me know what you thought about it. And for those looking for a good revenge flick, go watch Park’s movies. All three of ’em.

Grade: C+

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