SRP $29.99 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1 PARAMOUNT

There was a lot of controversy regarding the theatrical release of Mel Gibson's "PAYBACK." Well, technically, Brian Helgeland's "PAYBACK," that is.  The big rumor was that the studio was unhappy with the original third act and when Helgeland wouldn't reshoot the film, he was fired and Mel took over the helm. Well, as nice and diplomatic as Helgeland and Gibson are about it during their great interviews, included within the extras section here, it's all true.

The film, is a remake of a Donald Westlake movie, made previously before as "POINT BLANK", with Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson. The theatrical version of "PAYBACK" was a lot of fun, and even while wondering what Helgeland's version would've been, it didn't prevent the viewer from enjoying it. But, now PARAMOUNT has allowed Helgeland to re-edit his original cut. Is it exactly what he'd wanted originally. Well, it seems not entirely. As Helgeland say's in a great featurette included herein, "it's a compromise between his version and what the studio wanted."  Still, it's vastly different from the original theatrical version, and if one has to choose, much better. It feels tighter from beginning to end, there is more explanation as to how Gibson's character was originally double crossed, and the entire subplot involving Kris Kristofferson is completely gone, as is Kristofferson.  The film also works better without the narration and the ending, is much less optimistic, but much more powerful. "PAYBACK: STRAIGHT UP: THE DIRECTOR'S CUT" is a great film!

PARAMOUNT has provided a 1080p/MPEG-2 transfer with the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It's outstanding! To begin with, the blue tinted look of the theatrical film is completely gone. The imagery is much brighter and realistic now and it makes a huge difference!  The detail is vastly superior to the previous dvd of the theatrical version, with much deeper blacks and grays. While some grain pops up, it's not obtrusive. This is one of the best blu-ray transfers to come from PARAMOUNT so far!

PARAMOUNT has provided a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. We wish PARAMOUNT would begin including PCM 5.1 on their Blu-ray!  The mix here is great, however. An aggressive mix, discrete, surround and panning effects all come together in creating a tense, gritty atmosphere. Dialogue and music are well balanced throughout.

PARAMOUNT has included some great extras, including a commentary with the director and a lengthy featurette, exploring the differences between the two versions and how things came about. Don't miss it!