Starring: Mel Gibson, Maria Bello, Kris Kristofferson
Directed by: Brian Helgeland
Produced by: Bruce Davey / Mel Gibson

_____Three words (actually one, but what the hell) summarizes basically my entire feeling for Mel Gibson's PAYBACK: "Hubba, hubba, hubba..." The theme of the advertisement banners is "Get ready to root for the bad guy", which I saw when I exited the theatre restroom after watching SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE. To tell you the truth, and it might be a slight spoiler, there ARE NO good guys in the movie. Root for the bad guy? What ended up is rooting for the bad guy that's not as bad as the other bad guys... get it? Good.

_____The movie opens with Porter (you never find out his first name) grimly stating the worth of his life as he undergoes suburb-styled surgery to remove bullet wounds... 70 grand. What happened was that his ex-wife and old parter named Val (Gregg Henry) teamed up to rob Chinese drug-dealers' money, all 70 grand. Instead of splitting 50/50 as previously agreed upon, Val and Porter's ex-wife pump Porter full of lead and left him to die in the abandoned parking lot while they jet with the money. The real fun begins when Porter comes back (after the disgusting surgery) and scares his ex-wife into OD'ing (which basically means drug-overdose). From then on, Porter goes on the hunt for Val, and on the way he runs into his old mistress named Rosie (Maria Bello) whom he previously had an affair with. Eventually he finds Val part of a large crime-organization ran by big-boss Kris Kristofferson (sorry, I forgot the name he used in the movie). Without spoiling the rest of the plot, keep in mind basically that Porter runs into all kinds of mess, including more Chinese mobsters, organized crime-lords, and corrupt cops looking to cash in. All this trouble just for 70 grand?? Hubba hubba...

_____Payback is hilarious in a sick sort of way... which means most Americans will laugh their ass off either in some point in the movie or another. In other times, Payback just seems to... not make much sense. I'm not sure exactly how to put this, but when I walked out of the theatre, I felt an empty feeling in my guts, sort of like, the movie wasn't really filling. There were good action scenes, and some raunchy fun with an Asian hooker, but overall it felt disconnected. The environment was bleak, which set a good tone, but eventually became more of a nuisance than an atmospheric control. The actors did a mediocre job, which was slightly disappointing, considering that I'm a big Mel Gibson fan (freeeeeedooommmm!).

_____One good aspect about Payback was its one-liner jokes. They were sarcastic and entertaining, such as one part where Porter shoots a hole into a genuine alligator-skinned suitcase, which prompted the remark, "That's just plain mean, man!". In addition, Porter's insistance on getting 70 grand, no more, is quite a riot. Most of the big-bagazillionair crime-lords just don't understand all the trouble Porter is going through just for measly pocket change.

_____Actually, come to think of it, Payback isn't as bad as I made it sound. It's quite entertaining, and that's what you pay for, right? However, it doesn't really cut it as an elite movie, or even an above average movie... simply an average movie that uses all the equations correctly to spin out a Hollywood box-office money guzzler. Oh, and if you are going to watch it, make sure you're not queasy when it gets to blood and all-out violence, because that's what you're gonna get, sister!

Overall Rating: C
Pro's: Dark humor entertaining sometimes, one-liners are to die for.
Con's: Dark humor can be a drag, linear script with mediocre acting performances.