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Movie Review

Payback

Rated “R” for strong violence, language, and drug and sexual content

Reviewed by: Tim Emmerich
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action/Thriller
Length:
110 min.
Year of Release:
1999
R

Starring: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, Deborah Unger, David Paymer / Director: Brian Helgeland

Not even big Hollywood names can make “Payback” pay off! Mel Gibson plays Porter, a thief who gets simultaneously ripped off by a fellow thief named Val and double crossed by his wife. Not a good day for Porter. Guess that goes to show you something about the company you keep. Porter is left for dead, but survives to come back and seek his revenge.

The movie starts out poor. Initially the thieves steal supposedly hot money, then the severe double-crossing occurs. Obviously, Porter survives that encounter, otherwise it would have been a short movie. So, Porter sets out to get “his” money back, $70,000. It turns out Val bought himself into an organized crime ring called the “Outfit” with the money. This complicates Porter’s plans a bit, but he is dead set on getting his money back.

When Porter returns, he finds his wife is still heavily into drugs. And guess who is providing them for her? Yes, that’s right, Val! Due to the Outfit, Porter seeks out a prior acquaintance, Rosie. A prostitute that works for the Outfit. And by this point, you wonder if you should walk out of the movie!

From a Christian standpoint, the Lord says “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” Deuteronomy 32:35 (NIV). Obviously, Porter doesn’t believe this. The entire scenario would have been avoided if the two thieves had obeyed the golden rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” Luke 6:31 (NIV). Since Porter obviously didn’t like someone stealing from him, he shouldn’t have stolen the money in the first place. Since the movie focused so much on porter’s “hard-earned” $70k, I thought it would be good to mention that everything is God’s including all physical possessions. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above…” James 1:17 (NIV).

“Payback” has drug use, sexual innuendos and seduction, severe sadistic sexual relations between Val and Pearl (another prostitute), poor language and cursing, extreme violence with lots of deaths and explosions, and no redeeming qualities. Hollywood will most likely tout it as being original and unique! Christians should avoid this movie! You should always think twice about seeing a movie where the film’s advertising execs warn you to “get ready to root for the bad guy.”

Donate the price of your ticket to your church or a charity. Don’t even bother renting this one, even if the video store wants to give it to you for free! The only reason this movie was probably made was because Mel Gibson said “Hey, what’s it like to be a bad guy?”

Viewer Comments
I don’t think I have time to get out all I want to about this movie, so if I bore you please move on. ok, well, the violence sickened me, of course. I found the movie to fairly confusing actually. Why would anyone go through all that trouble for money if he can just steal it so easily? Let’s get into that as well. Yet another attempt by Hollywood to make crime look fun and glamorous.

I was disgusted when one of my friends said they actually aspired to be that good one day. Sickening. Then there was the constant abuse of women. I found that depressing. and the vocabulary in the movie, well let’s just say I think it could make a sailor blush. I really hope that this movie is not truly being called entertain. If it weren’t for all the loud sounds I would have probably slept through it.
—Elisabeth Moore, age 17
I thought that, though no redeeming qualities were presented, I went to listen to the music, which I found to be some of the best ever in a movie. I recommend that everyone just does what I did, buy the soundtrack.
—I.M., age 16
This movie starring Mel Gibson… is a very violent movie that dosn’t have much of a plot. I would not recommend it to anyone.
—Micah LeFebvre