My wife hates “Payback,” which released in 1999 and starred Mel Gibson. And when I say “hate,” in this case it is not too strong a word. I really think she would rather go to the dentist than watch it, and she hates going to the dentist more than most people. That’s how much she hates “Payback.”
Today, though, I was reminded of why I love it. The kids are watching an episode of “Power Rangers R.P.M.,” and a new character was just introduced. You’ve seen this character a hundred times before- the brooding ‘lone wolf’ bad boy who reluctantly joins the team and becomes a hero. It’s a common archetype because it works so well; we love heroes who used to be scoundrels, such as Han Solo, who may have been more popular than boy scout Luke Skywalker. We like our good guys, but we like them more when they are a little bad.
The reason I love “Payback” is because Mel Gibson’s character is a bad guy who stays bad. Time after time he has the chance to be nice, to do the right thing, and he keeps on being a bad guy. On and on it goes until finally you realize “Huh. He really is a jerk.” It’s so refreshing and fun to watch that I can’t understand anyone not liking in. In fact, I’m going to see if it’s on Netflix streaming. I’m tired to “bad good guys.” I’m in the mood for a real bad guy.