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Payback (1999)

NOTE: This commentary is only available on the 2007 Director's Cut edition, titled "Payback: Straight Up"

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Screenwriter/director Brian Helgeland Rating:9.5/10 (2 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Bakersfield on May 31st, 2016:Find all reviews by Bakersfield
The theatrical version of "Payback" is one of my all-time favorite movies. Knowing beforehand how different the Director's Cut was, I have to say, I was not looking forward to it. But...as a fan of the people involved I had to see it. Couldn't resist it. And even though I still prefer the theatrical version, the Director's Cut benefits from a strong commentary by Helgeland.

Recorded in 2006, the track is Helgeland covering pretty much everything, from script to print. He says at the start that he wanted to do the commentary with his old pal and well-known editor Kevin Stitt, but Stitt was working on location on another show.

During the first half, the track is very scene-specific, and (as expected) Helgeland points out the differences between the theatrical version and his Director's Cut. Don't expect him to totally trash the studio for the problems he had while editing the movie though. From the looks of it, there's no more bad blood between them. However, this particular issue is not completely ignored by Helgeland, and he shares quite an interesting story about his Oscar win for "LA Confidential" and his hope that the win would help him keep his job on "Payback". As we all know, that didn't happen and literally two days after the Oscars he was fired from the movie ("So much for the magic of an Academy Award", he says).

Some other interesting stuff on the commentary: there's a lot of talk about the cars in the movie, the locations in Chicago and L.A., the noir influences, the blocking, the original ending, budget issues, and of course the actors and their characters (and how they fit in this noir environment). Since he's the screenwriter of the movie as well, Helgeland easily digs deep into the minds of the characters (especially Porter) and talks in detail about their actions and intentions. He also shares the lessons he learned from making "Payback" (young film directors will be interested in what he has to say).

It's a very relaxed and informative commentary with basically no dead air. I recommend it even if you're not a fan of the Director's Cut.