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Max Payne


‘…has a supernatural subtext that feels bolted on to the hard-boiled feel of the game…’

Inspired by the video-game shenanigans of Free Guy, I felt the need to exhume a blu-ray of John Moore’s Max Payne, freely adapted from the popular Rockstar IP of the same name. Mark Wahlberg is the tough cop seeking revenge for the murder of his family; with a lot of cash spent and a tried-and tested IP, what could go wrong? Quite a lot, actually, this Max Payne has a supernatural subtext that feels bolted on to the hard-boiled feel of the game, and while some individual scenes carry a jolt, the overall package is hard to love.

Given that this is a revenge story, Max Payne makes a bodge of things right from the get-go by saving the key, tragic scene for midway through the film. Would John Wick work so well for us if we didn’t find out why he was seeking revenge until half-way though? Probably not, and it doesn’t help the action flow here. Payne is a burnt-out cop, but stumbles on a secret scheme to create a drug which gives the user super-human powers; forced to take the drug for himself, Payne kills the baddies in short order, making this feel like an origin story that explains his grizzled outlook.

The usually reliable Wahlberg struggles here in a humourless turn; he certainly handles the guns and explosives well, but this dour detective is something of a Payne to watch. Beau Bridges has an awful turn as Payne’s ex-partner, Mila Kunis doesn’t look comfortable as a wily assassin that helps Payne, and when the flashbacks arrive, Payne’s wife is somehow embodied by Aussie singer Nelly Furtado, which doesn’t add much gravity to the super-serious plot. Moore does better with the wintry New York, always snowing, even indoors, and with a cold, inhospitable feel that’s the film’s saving grace.

For once, I’ve completed a video game version, Max Payne 3, which doesn’t have any of the supernatural stuff, but plays hard and fast like a Jim Thompson novel. That Max Payne game would make a great film, but this version really isn’t it; even video-game characters deserve better than this, and hopefully the Max Payne character will return in a more artfully crafted vehicle that allows him more chance to be his usual neo-noir self.


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  1. Hmm. Don’t remember hearing about this one but I will admit I do like to watch Marky Mark running around shooting people and flexing his biceps. Video game movie is strike one, your poor review is strike two, my overflowing queue of great films is strike three….this one’s out!

    • That is a logical series of deductions. I’m a fan of Marky Mark and his Funky Bunch but he’s a humourless bore here and you’ve got better fish to fry!

  2. A videogame adaptation that a) works and b) makes money seems to be difficult to achieve. Not familiar with the game I came at this with no expectations. Which was just as well because it was poor stuff.

  3. I always figured this was a big flop since it was a videogame adaptation that didn’t get sequels like the Resident Evil franchise.

    What did you play P3 on?

    • I am going to do some reviews of games I played on the Pkaystation 3. That’s how up to the minute I am!

          • Mrs B and I bought an old N64 when we first got married so we could play mario kart, but we sold the system and games to a vintage collector several years ago and never replaced it. I just don’t play video games and Mrs B likes the games you play on a little tablet. So no need to spend hundreds on a system 😀

              • I am not a fan of “open world” in principle either. They hadn’t really taken off when I was playing so I’ve never experienced it, but it doesn’t sound attractive to me. Give me goals and a forward moving story.

                • We park our cars in the same garage. I already have a job, don’t need one in a virtual world…

                    • I played LA Noire and I had an ancient car, filthy office and tonnes of work to do that I barely understood. It was a little too close to home…

                    • Hahahahaa.
                      The car bit doesn’t bother me, as New England is pretty rough on cars with all the salt we put down in the winter.
                      But tons of work, that I understand. This week was a 38hr week in just 4 days. Thank goodness for dr’s appointments on Friday 😀

                    • We do, but they’re not nearly long enough and they somehow get filled up with all the stuff we don’t have the energy for during the week. Like cleaning and stuff :-/

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