Theatrical Review: Max Payne

Detective Max Payne lost his wife and child to a brutal killing. And though now, Payne is bound to a desk, he still continues to try and solve the murder himself and soon he finds the clues that leads him to the pharmaceutical company that his wife had worked for, currently trafficking in a super-soldier drug called Valkyr, that has hallucinatory effects on most who take it…

Max Payne is the latest video-game to movie conversion and it comes to us from the hands of director John Moore, who was wonderful with the film Behind Enemy Lines but less so with some more recent efforts. The game itself was really quite fun, bringing with it the mechanic of “bullet-time” allowing you to slow time for some really cool effects a la John Woo movies or more recently, The Matrix.

The movie is certainly an earnest effort and above anything else, absolutely has a fantastic look to it, but what it lacks is the fun factor which comes way too little and too late into the film.

The first hour has it’s moments, but for the most part is just so dry that I just didn’t really care about anything that was happening in it. Max himself, at least in this movie, is a one-note character, just driven to the point of being the atypical “cop on the edge” character. Now that would’ve been fine had there been a little more wit about everything else going on, and that doesn’t necessarily mean having to have humor about it, but just something else to it that would’ve at least made it much more fun to get into. Unfortunately, it lacks this, and as such, it’s pretty boring until about it’s last half hour. And even though things pick up then, they don’t pick up enough, at least by what’s promised in the trailer.

Pretty much, the trailer has all of the best parts of the film in it.

Mark Wahlberg plays Max, and he’s certainly got the look and the intensity, but little else, but then as I said, if this had a little more wit about it, he wouldn’t have needed anything else. He’s backed up with actors like Mila Kunis, Amaury Nolasco, Donal Logue, Chris O’Donnell, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Kate Burton and Beau Bridges, and all do a decent enough job, but again all are hampered by a pretty pedestrian first two acts.

I’d recently watched the movie Shoot ‘Em Up again and had a pretty good time with it and actually think that what Max Payne needs is just a little of what Shoot ‘Em Up has in abundance, and that’s more of a wilder over-the-top and somewhat self-aware fun factor, primarily during it;s first hour… had it done that, this could’ve been a whole lot of fun, but as it is, it looks great but doesn’t have anything really cool or fun in it that you haven’t already seen played out over it’s trailer. Not one of the worst that I’ve seen for the year, but certainly a big disappointment.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

19. October 2008 by Darren Goodhart
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