Double Feature – Payback (Theatrical Version) and How I spent My Summer Vacation

Here we go then, this is the first in an occasional series where I recommend a double feature of films and try to explain why I think they work well together.

To be clear, just in case anyone doesn’t know – a double feature is where you watch two films back-to-back.  So we’re looking films that work together as a pair, in one large chunk of film watching time.

To kick things off we’re starting with two Mel Gibson films.

If any comments try to derail it into “Gibson is an anti-Semite” type stuff I will borrow John Scalzi’s Mallet of Loving Correction and the comments will be gone.

My House, My Rules.

Right, with that out of the way, onto the films.

Why do these two make for a good double bill?  It’s not just the leading man, although it doesn’t hurt.

What really brings them together is the fact that they are both of a similar tone.  To be clear, I only mean the Theatrical Version of Payback here, the Director’s cut is a different beast and will probably feature in another Double Feature later on.

Both of them feature an unrepentant criminal who is not adverse to being violent but can also be funny and kind to those he cares for.  Both the main characters are determined to get their money back and both go up against organisations that outnumber and should overpower them.

In fact, when I saw How I Spent My Summer Vacation, my first thought was that the unnamed protagonist was actually Porter from Payback, just 15 years on.  With Gibson playing both it’s not too hard a leap to make.

In Payback, Porter works his way from one Organisation member to the next, all in an attempt to get his $70000 back.  He tries to charm, but is willing to get violent when necessary.

In HISMSV, the unnamed Gringo gets locked up in a prison town, literally a town inside a prison, and has to work his way through the ranks to be trusted.  Only once he has done that can he work on getting the millions stolen from him by crooked cops back.

Both protagonists use a mixture of guile and outright brutality to get to where they want to be.

If you want to compare a couple of scenes, look at how Porter goes from broke to well fed and dressed at the beginning Payback.  Then see the Gringo go from hungry to fed after a fire at the heroin shack.

There’s a smoothness about the actions in both.  Something that tells you these men have been professional thieves for a long time.

Or look at the way both of them use trickery to get Bosses to be where they want them, just in time for an explosion.  Again, you can see the same pattern of thoughts running through both films.

Sidenote – the umbrella gag in HISMSV made me actually laugh out loud.

So why should you watch these as a double feature?  It’s because they complement each other.  In Payback you have a brash and younger thief doing what he needs to to get what’s his.  In HISMSV you have an older thief using the knowledge of years to get out from under a bad situation and back on his feet.

The bad guys in each are equally nasty, although the main villain’s plot for the boy the Gringo befriends takes him over the top to be the nastiest of them all.

The films work well as a pair, with HISMSV acting as almost a quasi sequel to Payback.  Check them out, I think you’ll find it works.

Tell me if you agree or not in the comments.  Do you think there’s a better film to be paired with either of them?  If so, let me know and I’ll give them a spin.

Please don’t suggest a random double feature, I have a few planned, but I might ask for suggestions later.

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