Paycheck

Not Recommended. Pretty formulaic conspiracy story about seeing the future. Compared to Phillip Dick’s other stories that became Blade Runner and Minority Report, this is just terribly uninspiring. I never thought I would see Uma Thurman act so poorly. Ben Affleck is a reverse engineer who does illegal work for a corporate marauder played by Aaron Eckhart. After he does his work, his memories are erased with a special machine so he doesn’t know what he did. This latest job turns out to be a machine that can see into the future and of course, the bad guy wants to use it to get rich and control. There are some clever sayings throughout about the nature of fortune telling. Knowledge of the future controls people. If a futurist tells people that there will be war, then a country goes to war preemptively to get a jump on it (an obvious and inadequate reference to the recent preemptive strike on Iraq by the U.S.). If the futurist says there will be a stock market crash, everyone rushes to sell their stocks before it happens, thus creating the crash. Ben says, “If you show someone the future, they have no future. Take away the future, you take away their hope.” Knowledge of the future is a form of control over others. A Romantic materialist worldview is expressed by Uma when she says to Ben, “All we are is the sum of our experiences.” An interesting approach to this ability to see the future is used by the storytellers. They use the Eastern notion of palm reading. The big future-seeing machine is simply a technological palm reader. This is set up earlier by showing a palm reading diagram in Ben’s apartment as he plays with hand balls with the Tao symbols of yin and yang on them. This Eastern notion of fortune telling is a clever idea for explaining the basis of foreknowledge and is very chic now in movies, but it is pagan and fraudulent in truth.

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