Re: RARA-AVIS: Payback

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 21 Mar 2003


I've long felt that most criticism is simply the backing up of gut reactions. You and I clearly had different gut reactions to Payback, so we're never going to change each other's minds.

However, to clarify my points, it's wasn't so much for me that Mel Gibson was a "nice" bad guy -- you're right, he wasn't -- but that he was a likeable bad guy. His wisecracks and constant smiling added a comic caper element to the movie that seemed misplaced to me. I'm not saying I don't love many comic capers, but that I found Payback's tone wildly uneven, swinging from comic caper to dark crime. To me it seemed obvious that the film had been grafted together.

It certainly was not me who said Tarantino avoided humor in Pulp Fiction. Hell, I think of that movie as a comedy, and a great one at that. I felt Tarantino's humor was totally integrated, though. It was in the fabric of the movie, not applied later to mitigate the horror. In many ways, the humor of Pulp Fiction accentuates the bits of horror through contrast or, as in the case of Marvin, by making you laugh, then realize just how sick it is to be laughing at somone getting their head blown off.

We do agree on one thing, though, you can't go wrong with Lucy Liu.

That said, read the book. I absolutely guarantee you will love it. It stands up on repeated readings, so it will certainly stand up after seeing any one of the movie adaptations, no matter which one you like best.


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