Paycheck is based on a story by sci-fi author Philip K. Dick (Minority Report, Total Recall). Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) is a brilliant contractor who helps companies reverse-engineer and steal their competitors’ latest technologies. The only catch is that, before receiving each paycheck, Michael’s memory is erased to protect the company from blackmail and prosecution. When an old friend proposes that he take a 10-figure payment for a three-year project, Michael reluctantly accepts, imagining that it will be his last job. But after the memory wipe, Michael is dismayed to find that, during the final days of the project, he forfeited his paycheck and instead sent himself an envelope filled with a few personal items. Angry and confused, Michael and his girlfriend, Rachel (Uma Thurman), attempt to discover the dark secret that would motivate him to give up so much money in exchange for a few trinkets.
Not as well executed as Minority Report, Paycheck fails to evoke much emotional connection between movie viewers and characters. Instead, it examines a few interesting ideas, which will attract avid sci-fi fans but won’t ultimately win critical acclaim. Paycheck suggests that knowing the future would be detrimental to human existence. Additionally, the main character is forced to consider the value of time and memories as he “trades” years of his life for money. The film cannot receive the Dove Seal due to language, sexual content and violence.