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Max Payne (2008) Review

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Mark Wahlberg as Detective Max Payne
Beau Bridges as B.B. Hensley
Ludacris as Lieutenant Jim Bravura
Mila Kunis as Mona Sax
Chris O’Donnell as Jason Colvin
Nelly Furtado as Christa Balder
Kate Burton as Nicole Horne
Donal Logue as Alex Balder
Amaury Nolasco as Jack Lupino
Olga Kurylenko as Natasha Sax
Director: John Moore

After the murders of his family and his partner, maverick cop Max (Mark Wahlberg) becomes hell-bent on revenge. Teamed with beautiful and deadly Russian mobster Mona Sax (Mila Kunis), Max journeys into a dark underworld to find the truth, but forces — both worldly and supernatural — align against him, determined to silence Max forever.

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I remember hearing about Max Payne when it came out, it was based on some video games and it looked like it had potential, the trailer was actually good (much better than the movie). However apparently it wasn’t very good. In terms of accuracy to the games, I’ve only played the third instalment of the game series (which I liked). As the movie is based off of the first two games I can’t say how it adapted the story, but whatever the case it’s still not a good movie. Max Payne is a pretty dull, poorly made movie, that won’t be enjoyed by people unfamiliar with the games, and I can imagine it only comes across worse for those who are.

As far as video games go, Max Payne is actually not that bad of an idea as a movie. The premise of a main character’s family being killed and him out for revenge is a simple enough story, and that could be easily adapted into a movie. Although I played the 3rd Max Payne game, I heard that this movie is based on the previous 2, so I can’t comment on how they handled the adaptation overall. Whatever the case though, whatever they were going for didn’t work as a movie on its all at all (and I heard that it really doesn’t do the games justice at all). The plot is rather dull and generic, like a run of the mill action flick. It’s just so uninteresting and you don’t care what’s going on, not with the characters, not with the story. Maybe on paper the plot isn’t terrible but they don’t make it engaging at all.

Most of the acting really wasn’t anything that good but it doesn’t help that every character is one dimensional. Mark Wahlberg can be good in some movies and on paper he didn’t even sound like a terrible casting choice for the title role but he feels kind of miscast here. You don’t really buy him in this role as someone who’s family is murdered and he’s out for revenge. It feels like the most boring version of Crime/Revenge Mark Wahlberg (if you’ve watched a lot of his movies I think you can tell what I’m meaning). It’s like ‘family murdered’ is the only characteristic given to Payne here, and Wahlberg doesn’t really feel believable in the role at all. Mila Kunis can be good in some movies but I really don’t buy her in her action role here, doesn’t really have much to do here. The rest of the acting is nothing impressive either, with actually the more stand out characters/actors being killed off pretty early on.

One thing that I knew going into this movie is that the director of Max Payne, John Moore, also directed A Good Day to Die Hard, and so I really wasn’t really looking forward to watching Max Payne because of that. One of the things I actually do like about Max Payne is that some of the environments are very noir-ish and snowy, I really like the aesthetic and it is by far the best part of the movie. Max Payne is a video game and so you’d can expect a lot of action – except the action actually happens an hour into the movie. While one could say that maybe they traded out the over the top action with a good mystery, the mystery wasn’t even that good. It’s a shame that much of the action when it’s on screen at times is rather incomprehensible with a lot of quick edits, and when you can tell what’s going on, it’s rather boring and like a generic and mediocre action movie . One of the highlights of the Max Payne games are the bullet time moments, where Max can slow down time to shoot enemies. The movie oddly doesn’t really take advantage of the bullet time and the one time that it does, it’s this really boring extreme slow-motion moment where he jumps backwards to shoot some guy behind him with a shotgun, bizarre moment to have that one bullet time moment. It really was a wasted opportunity. This movie is PG-13 and I didn’t really understand why. It’s a movie about a guy’s family getting murdered and the games were sort of R rated, so I don’t understand why they didn’t go all out with the violence. Apparently there is an R rated cut but it was originally planned to be PG-13 in the first place.

Max Payne isn’t even good enough as a basic action movie, it’s uninteresting, not that entertaining and all around not a good movie. Really the best part of this movie is that this it has a pretty great snowy aesthetic when it shows it. There’s actually some potential, especially with the video games its based on but its not on display here. A ton of people absolutely despise this movie but I’m not hating it. It’s a bad movie for sure, but it’s just rather dull and mediocre more than anything.