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, so I cannot make a comment how faithful it is to its source material, I am rather betting that it is VERY "loosely based". Otherwise, I would wonder how the video game became a hit, because this film is definitely not. While comic book adaptations have achieved respect from Hollywood, it seems like video game franchises have not.
A brooding detective named Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) is working the cold case files in the hopes of finding his wife's murderer. His wife and child were killed by a trio of junkies and while he killed two of them, one is still out there. One night, he hooks up with a beautiful girl named Natasha (Olga Kurylenko) and the next day, she is found cut to many pieces. She had Max's wallet in her hand which prompted his former partner Alex (Donal Logue) to cover for him and ends up dead. Natasha's sister Mona (Mila Kunis) is a mob assassin who comes looking for Payne, and the situation gets worst as they decide to pool their resources. Max finds out that his wife's murder three years ago, may be linked to the pharmaceutical company she used to work for. There is a designer drug out in the streets that causes confidence and calmness all the more feeling invincible--this drug was meant for the use of the military to strengthen morale but dumped because of its hallucinogenic side effects. Now, Max must find a soldier named Lupino to uncover the truth--but the truth may just lead him to a family friend named BB (Beau Bridges)…
The problems with the film is the fact that the screenplay by Beau Throne feels very befuddled. Nothing special really happens and the film is downright predictable. The links to Natasha's killing and Max's wife feels like a throw-away detail, a drug with military potential is used as a designer drug, a huge corporation wishing to make a profit out of a mistake, a murdered partner, betrayal by a family friend, all are overused ideas. Ok, I'll try to be nice, there are a lot of movies that follow the same formulas but the way the script is structured is just so empty and dull. The film just throws out the routine cop with a mission of vengeance with a very hollow execution as director John Moore (responsible for the abysmal Omen remake) opts for a repetitive narrative as the film goes on. There is nothing daring, exciting or dramatic in the proceedings, all it does is go through the entire motivations and Max's intentions over and over again. The film doesn't offer anything inventive and feels like the film's script has been rewritten hundreds of times.
For reasons unknown, the film doesn't even develop on its remaining aces. Mila Kunis' character is so severely underused--Her promise as a supreme hot girl with a big gun goes nowhere. The film's opening act with the potential for "Norse Valkyries" as a soldier's guardian angel was pitched into the plot but abandoned, in favor of a lame idea of a corporate scheme to make profit out of a failed drug that uses it as idolatry. "Human Arousal machine" and Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko has a very small role and disappears before her presence can inspire excitement from the male audience. (sorry no sex or nudity here) The film also leaves a lot of things unresolved and undeveloped, it‘s predictability and clichés do hurt the film. The images of the valkyries only end up as "eye-candy" as Max shoots his way to the final showdown in the midst of visions of Valhalla on Earth.
The action isn't that good either. Director Moore uses an over-abundant use of slow motion in an attempt to look cool and emulate a "matrix-like" style. The gunfights also have that Asian inspiration as Max leaps, and avoids bullets with ease--either he's really good or these bad guys just supremely suck. The cinematography of the film is nice and emulates a moody and gloomy atmosphere (what is up with this style?). The CGI generated environment is pretty and looks cool. The camera work by Jonathan Shea is decent and the special effects weren't bad as Max rampages through the cosmic hallucinations to reach his end goal. Unfortunately, whatever the film achieved visually is overshadowed by the film's flaws that all the special effects and gorgeous set designs just couldn't save the film from becoming a lost. It does make it more acceptable but not by much.
Mark Wahlberg is a decent lead, I liked him in "The Departed" and "Shooter". The man isn't the best performer but he did what he could with whatever little he has to work with. Beau Bridges makes for a ungainly antagonist-- his character is just so underwhelming and uninteresting that you wonder what the fuss was all about. Meg Griffin is also severely underused and her character is left hanging (maybe hints of a sequel?) The film does have some humble pay off amid all the bad screenplay, and it would have helped for more developed characters.
I suppose the film's enjoyment would depend on just how much of a fan you are of the video game. The film is a just a decent visual feast and so below the standards of a great action flick--that it fails even more as below average video game adaptation. Director John Moore almost does turn the tables but it was just too little, too late. The film is full of unnecessary prattle and so little excitement. The film is a brainless attempt and you may want to take a nap until the eye candy effects take over in the final act.
RENTAL [2 ½ Stars]
Note: There is nothing special about the unrated cut except for the extra bloody clouds when a bullet hits its target.
Video/Audio: 2.35 ratio anamorphic widescreen. Beautiful transfer--clean, black levels are strong and solid. The colors are intentionally muted to give it a noir-like feel. 5.1 Dolby Digital track is very clear and powerful.
Extras: I didn't bother but it does look interesting, as Moore explains why he diverted from the source material.
What did you think of this review?