Payback: Special Edition Blu-ray Review

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Reviewed by Cas Harlow, 15th August 2010.
After well over a decade this solid modern film noir crime thriller finally got its definitive edition, with the Region Free UK Special Edition Blu-ray, that boasts not only the 1997 Theatrical Cut, but also a 2005 reworking by the Director, that attempts to capture his original intentions back before he was removed from the project. The film had re-shots commissioned – post-Lethal Weapon 4 – adding a completely new final act and changing the tone in order to make Mel Gibson’s character more easy for audiences to root for. Honestly, I think the Director’s reworking is superior: the menacing lead anti-hero is supposed to be a character who we don’t really like all that much. He is supposed to be more a force of nature than a loveable rogue, and the Director’s original vision (as replicated, as best he could, with the new cut) is much closer to the tone of the movie’s source material – a novel by author Donald E. Westlake.

The UK release is definitely the best edition to get, coming to Blu-ray with fantastic video presentation, excellent audio treatment (of the Dolby TrueHD variety, topping the US equivalent’s standard-def DD5.1 offering) and all of the plethora of previously found extras – a hefty, comprehensive selection that covers the convoluted production history in great detail – as well as a couple of extra interviews. And then, of course, you get both cuts – and, as far as I know – this is the only Region Free version that sports both versions. Honestly, this is a great little crime thriller and, whether you prefer the 1997 Theatrical Cut or the 2005 Director’s Cut, it is great to finally have the option to have both. And with only one new film from Gibson in the last decade, fans will probably love to see such a completely new version of one of his better efforts. Considering the fact that you can probably pick this up at a reasonably low price at the moment, for those who haven’t already added it to their collection, this edition comes highly recommended.
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Novice Member
Yes - this is a totally AWESOME movie - ordered. Thanks Cas :smashin:

Casimir Harlow

Blu-ray Reviewer
Thanks buddy, finally got around to reviewing it after almost a year! Top release for such an underrated film. Cheers!


Active Member
Nice review Cas. I have this BD and was delighted it had both cuts on it. Both of which I enjoy. There are few films which have 2 such different versions. The only other one which comes to mind is one of the later Exorcist films which was totally reworked into in essence 2 different films. Anyway this is a great BD and a bargain at under £10 for what really amounts to 2 movies.

Casimir Harlow

Blu-ray Reviewer
Glad you liked the review, cheers!

Yeah, I haven't come across many films where they've gone to such great lengths to provide a very different version.

Perhaps Alien 3 (the newer, longer, Fincher cut - which supposedly has a cleaned up soundtrack on the upcoming BD - is superb), Donner's Superman 2 (which was quite interesting), and the fantastic and ludicrously long (also upcoming on BD) Apocalypse Now. And stuff like Blade Runner, which has had about a billion different versions. The underrated Malick film, The New World, also recently got an extended cut which is pretty different, which I got to review fairly recently. But I don't think any of them are quite as dramatically different (not just in footage, but also in tone) as Payback.

Thanks, Cas

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