Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Max Payne: Movie Review

Max Payne: Movie Review

Rating: 5/10
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Beau Bridges, Mila Kunis, Ludacris, Chris O'Donnell, Amaury Nolasco
Director: John Moore
The pantheon of small screen computer games adapted for the movies is littered with relative failures.
From the likes of Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Lara Croft, Silent Hill, BloodRayne, Hitman and Super Mario Bros, many have failed to ease the transition to the big screen.
The latest addition to the genre is Max Payne.
Based on the infamous and quite violent computer game, the film adaptation of Max Payne (played by Mark Wahlberg) centres around one man's quest to track down those who are responsible for the murder of his wife and baby.
Made to look like a robbery and without any substantial evidence, the murder investigation was soon shut down and its lead detective (Payne) assigned to the Cold Case desk.
But Payne's never given up and a mysterious death of a woman (forthcoming Bond girl Olga Kurylenko) reignites the case as a series of leads involving a new drug, pushes Payne back on the quest for vengeance for his slain family.
Joining Payne on his journey are Mona Sax (Mila Kunis) out to avenge her murdered sister, and BB Hensley (Beau Bridges) Payne's wife's former boss.
However, as Payne continues his investigation deeper into the project and company his wife used to work for, he delves deeper into a murkier and spookier world which threatens to engulf him.
Max Payne, the film version, is a curious beast - in some aspects, the film works brilliantly; its visuals such as the realisation of Valkyrie warriors floating in the sky over some of the drug addled characters are stunning and spooky at the same time.
Then, by the same token, some of the dialogue and acting is unbelievably wooden (Prison Break's Amaury Nolasco seems to do little but drip sweat and leer) - and some scenes play out as if they were cut scenes in a computer game, there to provide exposition and break up the action while the next segment loads up.
The shoot outs when Payne is trying to escape various evil-doers intent on bringing him down are violent, bloody and very similar to levels on a computer game (dodge the bullets, seize the incriminating file and shoot the door down as you escape)
Sometimes this plays to the film's strength; but on several occasions, it's simply there to showcase the amount of pyrotechnics the crew and its director Moore (who previously helmed the remake of the Omen in 2006) were clearly able to get their hands on with slow slots of various items exploding around the cast.
If you're a fan of the game, you may well get a little more out of it than I did - and given the ending, there does appear to be the possibility a sequel may be made.

Ultimately, as far as I am concerned Max Payne just misses the mark - it left me frustrated some of the more supernatural elements (such as the Valkyrie demons and ongoing references to Norse mythology) were sidelined in favour of a slightly weaker revenge driven plot.

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