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A Comparison of “Paycheck” and the film adopted from it Critical Essay


The 36 paged short story book written by Philip Kindred Dick, “Paycheck” explores political, social, and metaphysical fiction genre.

Drawn from his personal experiences, this book reveals the rot of the society as contributed by the themes of monopolistic corporation, misery, twin-self, paranoia, altered states, and authoritarian administration. This paper examines the differences that lies between the “Paycheck” and the movie adapted from it.

The main theme presented by this story is personal identity as a component of realism. Books are normally adapted to the screen and “paycheck” is not an exception. When a book is adapted to the screen, many changes are usually made. Many a times, the changes occur even before the book is released. This explains why many screenwriters end up being directors.

A movie is a visual medium and normally attempts to portray certain parts of written piece on thoughts of characters not explicitly expressed. Recognizing themes of loyalty, moral crisis, honor, and revenge, Woo brings Dick’s short story to life. Woo is moved by Dick’s imaginative exploration of memory manipulation and how misused technology can wreak havoc on humanity.

Woo tries to blend the Dick’s high-concept vision of the world of tomorrow with his own stylized and highly choreographed action.

He creates a very human action thriller that combines stories of both self-discovery and love. Woo convincingly mingles the ‘futuristic’ and the ‘realistic’ imaginations of Dick to create a world of exotic technology with devices that can erase memories, machines that can create the weather and smokeless cigarettes.

Critical analysis of the short story and the movie reveals lack of strong connection between the two pieces of art. They seem to propagate different themes. To begin with, the story is more of thought-provoking. On the other hand, the film has an interesting sci-fi premise but instead of taking the route of a thought-provoking, it decides to venture down the path of action and chase scenes.

Reflectively, this creates a feeling of unimaginative casting. Factually, the story is far more and fascinating than the film. Woo even goes ahead to include slow motion pictures yet the short story is a high speed genre. This adversely distracts the story from its original interesting and provocative aspects.

In the story, Jennings, the main character, has only 7 main items: a ticket stub, a length of fine wire, a green strip of cloth, a parcel receipt, a bus token, half a poker chip and a code key. Out of these, only the bus token and code key appears in the film. He actually refers to them as “trinkets” and describes them as his ‘pocketful of miracles, from someone who know the future’. Actually they are a blessing in disguise.

Because prior to the memory wipe these ‘trinkets’ he believed would lead him to ultimate economic freedom. Not just a paycheck but a change of lifeline. This is a vicissitude of life, items that he never valued turns about to be a necessity for his survival.

After being arrested and interrogated by the police he realizes that he can use these items to escape. This finds him under the chase of both the police and Rethrick men. He uses the objects to stay ahead of them as he tries to work out what the job was that he did for Allcom and in the end not only demand his paycheck but also a share in the company.

Still more disturbing is the fact that Jennings was a rich man in the movie after completing many jobs and memory wipes. But in the story, no other job is mentioned and this appears to be his first contract. After significant difference in the number of years he worked. In the story the job lasts for 2 years as oppose to 3 years in the movie.

In the short story there is a female character called Kelly who is a receptionist for the company. However there is no indication that Jennings fell in love her.

The fact that has to be appreciated is that he did turn to Kelly’s help. On contrary, in the movie, a new character is introduced called Rachel; a woman Jennings fell in love with while working for Rethrick but then forgets about when his memory is wiped. Due to this, Rachel tries to help Jennings and provides him with an ally he can trust.

The theme is not fully exploited; the thriller misses the truly poetic orchestrations of actions and heroic displays of bravado intended by Dick. The story has intriguing premise: a man who has to work backward to recover information that he once knew, uncovering that information by moving step by step into a future that his past self has already seen. This is a true reflection of Dick’s imaginations.

In the thriller, however, Dick’s premise are never really exploited and instead used as the framework for limp action set-pieces. Affleck seems unable to convey the poetry and philosophical inclinations of Dick’s concept i.e. underlying fear and destabilizations of the imaginative explorations.

Affleck looks entirely out of place, the actor doesn’t seem to understand his character’s haunting position: a man who, practically is forced to “talk” to his own disassociated “self.” Affleck looks moderately concerned and a bit confused. In fact he fails to play his role convincingly as a brilliant engineer.

The endings of the two genres are quite different. In the story, Jennings tries to find Rethricks’s plant, gain evidence of what he has been working on and blackmail him into letting co-run the company. He has no safe place to go because the security police are after him and this is only option.

While in the film Jennings goes back to destroy what he helped to create because it has negative consequences for mankind and the police try to help him. In the story it is the government and security police who are the bad guys, with their almost unlimited power and hold over the people, and Rethrick Construction Company are revolutionaries, trying to change from the usual.

In conclusion, the short story and the movie seem to lack connections. The movie is not able to vividly and convincingly present the theme of the short story. Moreover, the endings of the two genres do not much up. They both end up in different circumstantial incidences.

As a result, the short story and the movie present numerous differences that require further deliberations. If this is done, a new thriller can be screened to capture the theme and intention of the Dick’s “Paycheck” short story.

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IvyPanda. (2019, July 3). A Comparison of "Paycheck" and the film adopted from it. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-comparison-of-paycheck-and-the-film-adopted-from-it/

Work Cited

"A Comparison of "Paycheck" and the film adopted from it." IvyPanda, 3 July 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/a-comparison-of-paycheck-and-the-film-adopted-from-it/.

1. IvyPanda. "A Comparison of "Paycheck" and the film adopted from it." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-comparison-of-paycheck-and-the-film-adopted-from-it/.


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IvyPanda. "A Comparison of "Paycheck" and the film adopted from it." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-comparison-of-paycheck-and-the-film-adopted-from-it/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "A Comparison of "Paycheck" and the film adopted from it." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-comparison-of-paycheck-and-the-film-adopted-from-it/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'A Comparison of "Paycheck" and the film adopted from it'. 3 July.

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