Max Payne (2008) - Unrated
|Genre(s): Action / Crime|
|Fox || Unrated - 103 minutes - $34.98 || January 20, 2009|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-01-12|
Writer(s): Sam Lake (video game); Beau Thome (screenplay)
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Ludacris, Chris O'Donnell, Donal Logue, Olga Kurylenko
Theatrical Release Date: October 17, 2008
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Hollywood, there you go again! With each year, Hollywood reaches to lows of originality or the lack thereof. Rather than going after something original, they search for material with a loyal fan base hoping that it will give a studio a modest franchise. Video game-based movies are nothing new for sure. Throughout the years we got Doom (starring “The Rock”), Resident Evil (which Sony did manage to turn into a minor franchise), Dead or Alive (Jaime Pressly), BloodRayne (Kristanna Loken), Mortal Kombat, Tomb Raider (Angelina Jolie) and the list goes on. I realize, it’s nothing new but do 90% of them have to suck?
[Note: This review contains some plot spoilers, namely deaths of certain characters.]
Max Payne stars Mark Wahlberg (The Departed) as the title character. The film opens with Wahlberg doing his best impression of Eastwood’s ‘Dirty Harry’ with a voiceover (maybe it’s me, but it’s rarely a good sign when a movie begins with a voiceover...), his character, Detective Max Payne, is floating in water and is preparing to die before we get the clichéd “One Week Earlier” tag (cleverly placed on a building a la opening credits in Panic Room). Payne used to work homicide until his wife was killed and after the case went nowhere, he transferred to the cold case department in the hopes of tracking down that one lead to find the killer.
The investigation into the death breaks when his former partner (played by Donal Logue in an all-too-brief appearance) finds a connection between the deaths of a drug addict named Natasha (Olga Kurylenko; Quantum of Solace), who Max Payne had an encounter with earlier that day, and his wife. Of course, something really bad happens before the partner can share this info...
Payne soon teams up with Natasha’s sister, Mona (Mila Kunis; Forgetting Sarah Marshall), a sexy assassin who also wants to find the killer. Soon enough, Max uncovers a conspiracy concerning the company his wife worked for, Aesir Pharmaceuticals. Surely a pharmaceutical company can’t be bad... right?
Max Payne is a visually pleasing movie but with a lame and predictable story — you haven’t seen enough movies if you don’t know who the baddie is from his/her first appearance — but even the visuals are, to put it nicely, borrowed from other films. Director John Moore uses different styles from the black and white nature in snow (it wasn’t B&W exactly, but scenes in snow were very stylized) from Sin City to a random slo-mo scene late in the second act (like 300). There’s nothing wrong emulating either of those film’s visual styles, but with a lousy story, there’s not much to hang your hat on.
Along with some pretty bad writing and dialogue, as much as I like Mark Wahlberg – and I do think he’s a good actor –, I never for a second bought him in this role. As I stated earlier, Dirty Harry he is not. Russell Crowe? Hell yeah. Robert De Niro in his youth? Absolutely. Not Wahlberg. Another piece of miscasting is that of Mila Kunis. I absolutely adore her (in a non-stalker/obsessive kind of way). She’s beautiful and a funny actress (see: “That 70s Show” and Forgetting Sarah Marshall), but as a dangerous, street-wise assassin?
I know plenty “Max Payne” video game fans hated this movie, but having never played the game I went into this with an open mind wanting to see a great action movie. While there were certainly some kick ass moments, they too few and far between. It is by no means a horrific action movie even with the script problems and it does possess a good amount of mindless action that will satisfy anyone 25 and under (FOR THE MOST PART).
The film co-stars Beau Bridges — who lives up as the older, quieter brother of Jeff Bridges (not a bad thing if you’ve seen Jeff Bridges in Iron Man) —, Chris O’Donnell as a company worm/executive or something, rapper Ludacris as an internal affairs detective and Nelly Furtado... yeah, the singer.
The disc contains both the theatrical and unrated versions. Since I decided to watch the unrated cut as my first viewing, I don’t know what the difference is, but according to the runtimes, it’s a 3:06 difference, so not entirely insignificant change.
Feature Commentary – Director John Moore, Production Designer Daniel Dorrance and Visual Effects Supervisor Everett Burrell sit down for a technical chat.
Picture: Part 1 (29:00) – A scattershot featurette, this goes behind-the-scenes and features interviews with members of the cast and crew talking a little about stunt work and the story. It isn’t your usual ‘making-of’ especially when it opens with the director flipping you off and a slight rant against DVD special features. Note: Part 2 is only available on Blu-ray.
There is also Michelle Payne Animated Graphic Novel (13:39), a recount of her story and why she was killed. Although this was not the final product, I assume a digital copy also comes with this release...
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Max Payne is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.35 aspect ratio. Because Fox sends out watermarked screeners I cannot adequately critique the visuals, but when the final product comes in, I will amend this review.
The same goes for the audio, but I will say it comes with a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track.
Max Payne is not nearly the worst movie of 2008 or even one of the worst video game adaptations either. Sure, it’s filled with “borrowed” styles, shoddy acting and a screenplay that needed an overhaul, but some of the action scenes were cool. However, this isn’t a movie I’d plan on watching again and is more worth a rental than paying your good money on.