Director: John Moore
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Chris O' Donnell, Beau
Bridges, Ludacris, Mila Kunis, Donal Logue, Amaury Nolasco
RunTime: 1 hr 25 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: PG (Some Violence)
Official Website: http://www.maxpaynemovie.com/
Opening Day: 16 October 2008
Based on the legendary, hard-hitting interactive video game,
MAX PAYNE tells the story of a maverick cop determined to
track down those responsible for the brutal murder of his
family and partner. Hell-bent on revenge, his obsessive investigation
takes him on a nightmare journey into a dark underworld. As
the mystery deepens, Max (Wahlberg) is forced to battle enemies
beyond the natural world and face an unthinkable betrayal.
Max Payne has plenty of guns and an endless stream of ammo.
What it does not have is story and originality.
Based on the Remedy Entertainment video game, Max Payne is
the vengeful antihero determined to avenge the deaths of his
beautiful wife and daughter. By day, he works as a desk clerk
at the Cold Case Unit of the police department. By night,
he prowls the streets in search of revenge.
The bare bones story has him implicated in the murder of an
alluring Russian femme fatale Natasha, who spots the same
mysterious tattoo as one of the assailants who murdered his
family. So he sets off to track down the origins of the tattoo
and finds that it is linked to some angels and demons folklore
from a long time ago.
Lest the trailers let you think it goes down the way of Constantine,
let me assure you that it does not. The supernatural references
are just a sidenote, and indeed even a sideshow entirely superfluous
to the story. Instead, the villains that Max Payne fights
against are corporations, in this context pharmaceuticals,
involved in a conspiracy that has post-9/11 references.
While the story starts off interesting, it soon becomes clear
that whatever plot is contained within is simply a mechanism
to move the action from one point to another. There is nary
a shred of mystery who the baddies are, and one wonders why
it takes Max Payne so long to piece together the clues of
But what is more vexing is how derivative the movie is. Max
Payne the video game was known for its use of bullet time-
the slowing of the passage of time when triggered even as
the player can move and react in real time. If this sounds
a tad familiar, it is because the series had a major cinematic
influence, and that is, the John Woo slow-mo gunplay.
So what we see here is really something copied from film into
a video game and now back into film again. The use of bullet
time may have upped the cool factor in the game, but they
have quite the opposite effect here in the film. Instead,
the few and far in between use of it appears to be an attempt
to appease fans of the game.
Director John Moore’s vision of the world of Max Payne
is a dark and seedy New York City that looks suspiciously
like Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s Sin City. From
the grimy dark allies to its unsavoury characters, Moore borrows
heavily from the look of feel of a far superior movie. Even
Johnathan Sela’s cinematography comes across as just
Mark Wahlberg plays the titular character and he may be the
best thing that the movie has going for it. But the recent
Academy Award winner for “The Departed” is of
late involved in films that wastes his potential, and Max
Payne is another such example. There are few actors in Hollywood
that can play the sensitive action hero character, but there
are too many similarities between his role here and that in
last year’s Shooter. In fact, Wahlberg even plays Max
Payne with the same brooding look and macho swagger.
True to its origins therefore, Max Payne has loads of action
but not much of a story. Worse still, its action sequences
are also oddly uninvolving. So if you’re a fan of the
game, you’re really better off playing it yourself.
If you’re not, there’s nothing much here to look
(All Payne and no gain)
Review by Gabriel Chong