Mel Gibson: You either love him or hate him. But you can’t deny that he’s made some pretty entertaining films through-out his career and none may be as underrated as 1999’s Payback.
By 1999, Mel Gibson was a superstar with countless box office hits under his belt. At that time, Payback seemed to be a no-brainer. You had a talented cast, led by Gibson, in a dark and gritty action film. Unfortunately, Payback was too dark and gritty for the studio and reshoots were done to make the Porter character more accessible to the Lethal Weapon fan-base. The film turned into a moderate hit for Gibson, making a little over 80 million dollars at the domestic box office.
Well, I remember really enjoying Payback. I thought it was refreshing to see Gibson play a dark character like Porter. however, I also always wondered what the original film looked like before the reshoots.
Now, here we are with Payback Straight Up: The Director's Cut. All I can say is; this film is definitely darker than the studio sanctioned version in the theaters. The director's cut had a definite look and feel of some 1970's action films like Dirty Harry & Taxi Driver. Remember, at the time, Gibson was an A-list star with a string of hit films from the Mad Max and Lethal Weapons series that made him out as the anti-hero with a conscience, so I can understand the studio’s reluctance to release such a relentless film to the masses; it would have been box-office suicide.
In either case, I truly enjoyed Gibson’s bad-ass portrayal of Porter and if his career ever gets back on track, I’d really love for him to tackle other grittier roles.
Even if you were never a Gibson fan, I urge you to watch either the theatrical or Director Cut of this underappreciated 1999 film: Payback. You will be definitely be entertained.