By Artie Augustyn
I’ve found that I have a lot more fun reviewing films that are awful than films that are amazing and worthwhile to watch. While watching Max Payne I knew I was going to enjoy writing this review.
Max Payne is about a detective of the same name whose wife and child are murdered. The film follows Max’s pursuit of the killer’s identity and motive.
The movie is based on of the video game “Max Payne that was released in 2001. This alone should lower your expectations. I have never seen a good adaptation of a video game to a movie and Max Payne doesn’t break the trend. The premise sounds promising, but the arcane execution kills any interest you may have in the plot.
Before I explain why the narrative rivals Plan 9 From Outer Space for “Worst Script Ever I should put up a disclaimer for everyone out there who has never played the video game this movie is based on.
“Max Payne the video game was awesome. It consisted of Max walking around New York City shooting gangsters in the face. The game was like participating in a dark and gritty action movie, the story wasn’t too bad either.
As a fan of the video game and its’ sequel, I can safely say that this movie does not replicate the video game’s story at all. So if you’re a fan of the game and were hoping for an accurate film recreation of your favorite video game, you won’t find it here.
At the same time, if you’ve never played the video game, you will have a hard time figuring out what the hell is going on.
The plotline speeds through introductions of characters really quickly. By the time you figure out who everyone is, most of them are already dead. And by the time you figure out why each character had to die, the credits will have already rolled and you’ll be sitting in darkness waiting for the next movie to start.
Max Payne is stuck in the same paradox that other video game movies have. They don’t stay true to their source material enough to please fans, but at the same time alienate newcomers by assuming the audience knows every major plot point of the game.
Speaking of staying true to source material, I don’t think it’s possible to strive any further away from the original story.
In “Max Payne the video game, there’s a detective named Jim Bravuro who is one of Max’s only allies, he’s some old, balding, white guy, but in the movie he’s played by the young, black, hip-hop artist Ludacris. That’s the only blatant miscast in the movie, but there are other important plot-related characters, such as the main antagonist of the video game, who don’t even make an appearance in the film.
Another major deviation from the source material is how the film handles the various Norse mythology references. In the video game, there’s a nightclub entitled “Ragnarok, a fictional drug called “Valkyrie, and there’s a few characters named after Norse gods and goddesses, but nothing supernatural is going on.
The movie handles this on-going theme as a major plot point. Instead of the drug “Valkyrie, it’s called “Valkyr (Big difference I know) and when someone is under the influence of this drug, they see real Valkyries, giant flying black demons.
I can hardly describe how absurd of a difference this is from the game: it’s like if Matt Damon turned into the devil at the end of The Departed and obliterated the entire city of Boston. It doesn’t fit the context of the story and certainly doesn’t remain in the realm of reality the game established.
Honestly, I couldn’t care less if the movie was anywhere close to accurately depicting the events of “Max Payne the game, but the new story is just plain dumb. Every line of dialogue is so confusing it’s as if the entire movie was translated into code. Even if you spend the first 40 minutes of the movie listening to the characters explain what’s going on, you’re still left in the dark, and have to constantly ask the person next to you: “What’s going on?
In general the movie is really boring and isn’t a lot of fun to watch. I believe there’s only one real action sequence in the entire film which lasts a mere 5 minutes, and four of those minutes are spent as a close up of Mark Wahlberg staring at a police officer in slow motion.
There is literally nothing enjoyable about this mess of a movie. It’s too busy deciding whether or not it wants to be a revenge story or a cop drama to worry about if the audience is being entertained or not.
If you want something related to Max Payne, search “Max Payne in 60 seconds on YouTube and be pleasantly surprised. If that doesn’t satisfy your needs you’re out of luck. Skip Max Payne.