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Max Payne

The 2008 movie starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by John Moore

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I had low expectations and was STILL disappointed.

  • Jun 17, 2009
  • by
I never expected MAX PAYNE to be particularly good. The video game was pure, first-person shoot-`em-up excitement, with the usual negligible plot, but with great locations, a cool, snowblown look and lots of things to shoot at. So while I didn't expect great things from a movie based on such flimsy material...I at least expected some ACTION!!

For much of the movie, though, PAYNE is paced like a methodical police procedural with occasional very brief bursts of action. By the time the climactic scenes arrive, which DO have a fair amount of action, I had long since stopped caring. I believe I had set my expectations properly: turn off the brain, but get ready for an adrenaline rush. What I got mostly was boredom, so when the action came...my adrenal gland was asleep. Not that the action was anything but pedestrian at that.

MAX PAYNE, the video game, is essentially the story of one cop's ruthless quest for vengeance for the death of his wife and baby. He was a good cop whose happy life was shattered by a crime cartel so sinister and connected that no LEGAL system would ever bring those responsible to justice. So he arms himself and essentially starts killing people left and right until he gets to those who REALLY deserve to be punished. The settings are various dark locations throughout a very snowy city, and the game looked terrific. It was DOOM with a smidgen of humanity. DUKE NUKEM with more hard-boiled, angry humor.

The movie gets many of the settings right, particularly the snow. That actually looked good. The effects, in general, were well-executed for a film with an obviously lower budget than your run-of-the-mill INDIANA JONES flick.

But while in a video game it's okay to have the main character (you) killing everything in sight...how could we, in a movie, sympathize with a man so maddened by vengeance that he kills pretty much everyone he sees. We couldn't, so the filmmakers keep Max from being murderous (until the end, when the whole evil plot is revealed). This is more "realistic" but also pretty dull. Mark Wahlberg plays Max as a guy who has pretty much just stopped living. He works the worst deskjob possible, and seems to have no personality left. When he gets some clues, finally, about what happened to his wife, he goes into action...which seems to consist mostly of moping his way through some seedy scenery and asking half-hearted questions. Wahlberg CAN be an engaging screen presence, but he does himself NO favors by taking on roles like this or SHOOTER. He doesn't have the charisma to coast through a part. He needs to be fully engaged as an actor (THE DEPARTED or THREE KINGS, for example) and he is successful.

Max is joined in his quest by Mila Kunis (That `70s Show, FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL), and it's passingly amusing to see an actress mostly known for sweet spunkiness to wear leather and carry a shotgun. It's a nothing role, but it helps her break her stereotype a little. Olga Kurylenko turns up in another video-game inspired movie (HITMAN), but isn't in too many scenes...a good thing, her range is extremely limited! Beau Bridges is a welcome presence, and Chris O'Donnell is NOT, in a very small role that he still manages to do less than nothing with. Finally, the always welcome Donal Logue shows up for about 10 minutes. I'd like to see HIM take on a role like Max Payne. He'd breathe some life into it!

In no way is this a good movie, nor would any reasonable person expect it to be. But it doesn't even merit a label like "trashy fun." I guess I'll just have to watch SHOOT `EM UP again for that. Or maybe I can dust off my old copy of MAX PAYNE the video game, and really have some fun!

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October 25, 2010
this movie was a huge disappointment for me too. The script was just a mess! Thanks for the review!
More Max Payne (2008 movie) reviews
review by . July 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      MAX PAYNE      It seems that while most movies based on a game are usually poorly received [and usually for good reason] Hollywood continues to make these movies in hopes that fans of the game will come out to see the movie. Now I am not one of those people who are against this concept as I have enjoyed most of those movies, including this one. Now this film is far from a classic and to be honest isn't great but it is good. I tend to turn the old …
review by . February 03, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Dvd cover
A review of the Unrated Director's Cut: Video game to movie adaptations are almost a dime a dozen. Sure, there have been more misses than hits. I liked the movie adaptation of "Silent Hill", have very mixed feelings about the "Resident Evil" franchise, and I thought the recent "Hitman" adaptation was quite mediocre. So I decided to check out this latest video game adaptation of "Max Payne"--I mean I know it's going to be mediocre, so how bad can it really be? Well, I haven't played the video game, …
review by . January 21, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I remember seeing the trailer for this movie and still not having a clue what it was all about, I was confused by it but then saw the movie anyway because my boyfriend really wanted to, bad mistake...after the movie was finished even he though that Max Paine was a pain to watch.     With flaws up to the kazoo, it's hard to pin point why this movie sucks. I have never played the game but that shouldn't be the reason why it was unclear what the heck was going on. Mark Wahlberg …
review by . December 19, 2008
Max Payne: I don't believe in Heaven. I believe in Pain. I believe in Fear. I believe in Death.     Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):   1.   This is an action movie based on a video game 2.   Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) is a detective whose driving passion is to find the people who murdered his family. 3.   While following up on likely leads, he meets a young woman named Natasha, and having no etchings, he takes her home to see her tattoos 4.   …
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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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About this movie


2008 noir action film based on the video game of the same name. This movie stars Mark Wahlberg as a NYC cop who investigates the death of his family in the city's criminal underground.

Any film based on a first-person shooter video game should, as a rule of thumb, be full of epic shootouts on a level equal to Sergio Leone or the Wachowski Brothers, and in that regard,Max Payneis an unqualified success. Mark Wahlberg also lives up to the game's pedigree by brooding mightily as the title hero, a big city detective mourning the murder of his wife and child. Revenge is, of course, Payne's ultimate goal, and with the assistance of slinky Russian hitwoman Mila Kunis, he dishes it out in elaborate set pieces overflowing with gymnastic gun play. Viewers seeking just that and nothing more will get their money's worth from John Moore's film adaptation, and most likely be impressed by its fashionably gloomy art direction and cinematography. Those seeking a bit more than gunpowder and gristle will find Max Payne utterly derivative of a half-dozen better films (Christopher Nolan'sBatmanfilms, most notably) and violent to the point of cartoon absurdity. They may find some refuge in appealing supporting turns by Donal Logue and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges as diametrically opposed cops and Beau Bridges, who offers his usual roguish charm as Payne's former superior.--Paul Gaita
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Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: October 17, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: January 20, 2009
Runtime: 100 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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