RARA-AVIS: Payback director's cut

From: Channing ( filmtroll@sbcglobal.net)
Date: 23 Jul 2007

I recently saw Payback the director's cut. It was an improvement on the studio approved edit, but it still wasn't a wholly successful film. In a short but excellent interview with Donald Westlake on the DVD, Westlake gave his blessing to any of the changes Brian Helgland needed to make to tell the story better. Westlake says that Helgland's script was too reverential to his book and in order to make a better movie he could change whatever he needed to. Westlake also tells an anecdote where he wishes he named Parker anything but "Parker" because he kept having to think up original ways of writing "Parker parked the car."

The three most obvious improvements:

1. No studio mandated Voice Over that explains exactly what's going on. Yay! 2. They ditched the blue tinted cinematography for more natural looking lighting. 3. They toned down the jokier tone to make it more serious and more Parker-esque.

That being said the movie is still flawed, but worth a DVD rental, and also for the director's commentary on the studio changes and for the Westlake interview.

I think the closest film version to the Parker of the books is Robert Duvall in The Outfit-- A no nonsense professional thief with the gravitas and acting chops of Duvall.

Best wishes, Channing

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