a critiQal film review Max Payne (2008)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Detective Max Payne (Wahlberg) seeks revenge after his wife and son are murdered. During the course of his investigation he teams up with Mona (Kunis), an assassin seeking revenge for the murder of her sister.

621 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 6s)
  • ..this otherwise drab video game adaptation is only made watchable at all thanks to a couple of fun "bullet-time" sequences.

From the preview, complete with a Nine Inch Nails song that perfectly set the mood, Max Payne looked to be good enough to see in theaters. A fresh take on a video game turned film – sort of The Punisher meets type of thing.

Still, we decided to wait until it hit DVD. Now that it’s arrived, we were anxious to find out if Max Payne would live up to it’s preview, or, following close behind , be the 2nd disappointment in a row from ex-Funky Bunch’er Mark Wahlberg.

Mark Wahlberg, thankfully, actually looks like he’s trying to put on a good show in Max Payne. While his strong, silent type seems more pouty than cold, it looks at least like he’s trying to get into his character. Unfortunately, surrounding himself with wannabes like Chris O’Donnell and Mila Kunis doesn’t help much, and he is forced to carry the movie mostly by himself. As he’s shown recently in , Mark can’t carry a horror movie by himself – and it turns out he isn’t quite up to the task of carrying this action flick by himself either.

The rest of the cast, as mentioned, doesn’t exactly bear up under the pressure of supporting Wahlberg, and most seem even slightly miscast. Mila Kunis’ turn as a female assassin is downright laughable, and Beau Bridges seems unsure how he got himself into this film in the first place – and can’t quite figure out how to extricate himself without damaging his reputation too much.

Surprisingly, not all of the supporting cast is awful. Ludacris does a decent job in his brief appearances as one of those Internal Affairs cops, and – even more shockingly – Chris O’Donnell manages to hold up his end when finally put in the spotlight.

Still, viewers aren’t flocking to Max Payne for the high-caliber acting – they are coming for the action. Unfortunately, aside from brief flashes, that action is a long time in coming, and viewers may tune out before the action starts heating up. Thanks to some up-close and personal communication with a shotgun or two and some fun “bullet-time” sequences, however, the action sequences turn out to be decent enough to satisfy most who have made it that far in the film.

It’s too bad, really. With the video game’s extensive use of “bullet-time” and the emotionally-ravaged hero reminding players of a more humane Punisher, a movie adaptation seemed right up it’s alley. Instead, viewers are given a rather drab vision of the game, with only brief sequences of that “bullet-time” scenery and a few choice shotgun blasts to make the film entertaining at all.

Oh, and the visions seen in the preview of winged creatures taking people away? Turns out to be a couple of good special effects sequences that tend to distract viewers from the plot rather than contributing to it, and the reasoning turns out to be rather tame – a disappointment for those who were looking for a vibe to the film.

With the movie discarding decent plot points left and right, and a cliched conclusion viewers can see coming a mile away, Max Payne will make viewers want to go out and play the video games. Not because the movie has hyped the games, but rather because viewers will figure that the source material has got to be better than the end result.

A big disappointment, even for those who have never played the videogames, Max Payne isn’t worth more than a rental (if even that), and will soon find itself in a bargain bin with other rather cliched action flicks like Solo and RoboCop 3.

If you’re in for a good video game adaptation, save yourself some Payne and check out instead.

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