Payback: Straight Up
So, there's an interview with Donald Westlake on the DVD. It isn't a very well-produced feature, in that if you don't already know who Donald Westlake is or what the Parker novels are you won't be able to figure out what he's talking about. For instance, no one explains that Parker's name has been changed to "Porter" in the movie, so when Westlake starts talking about naming his character "Parker", if you've only watched the movie, you might be lost.
Anyway, he goes on to talk about the two most recent Parker novels: Nobody Runs Forever and Ask the Parrot. He said that Ask the Parrot was a real chore for him to write, that he felt "snakebit" by it, and that the book was "slow". I couldn't tell if he just meant it was slow to write or if he thinks it was a slow read as well. However, as far as this Parker fan is concerned, those two books (which really tell one extended Parker story) are among the best in the series.
As for the movie itself:
Definitely closer to the original novel. The humor is darker and more muted: there's none of that Shane Black-style wacky macho posturing that made the theatrical version feel more like a typical Mel Gibson vehicle. The interesting thing is that though I liked the theatrical version for the most part, I felt that Gibson was miscast as Parker. But in the director's cut, with the goofiness trimmed away, Gibson seems to fit the character just about perfectly. We tend to think of a movie performance as something an actor does and while I don't want to take anything away from the work Gibson did, the two versions of Payback really emphasize how much a given performance in a film can be shaped by the director an editor.