Max Payne (2008)

A Max Payne in the arse

Detective Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) is consumed with nothing more than finding the man responsible for murdering his wife and child, and in his quest for revenge, comes across a string of killings supposedly involving winged demons.

Film adaptations of video-games are not well revered in any day and age. At best, any video-game film can be considered a guilty pleasure, as none of yet proven why a video-game film could be a good idea. In fact, Max Payne proves to be a successful deterrent against video-game films.

The film's two leads were both stars each in one of the biggest films of 2010, Mark Whalberg in The Fighter and Mila Kunis in Black Swan, which makes it disappointing to me how these two great actors managed to be unconvincing in their action star roles and manage to give quite mediocre performances. Granted, Kunis gave the better performance of the two, managing to be more convincing in her role, but it's still a performance that can be considered a low point in her acting career.

The dialogue manages to be nothing more than unoriginal and utterly predictable, as if the screenwriters just copy and pasted the dialogue from various action scripts. A big problem that I had with this film was how the dialogue for just about all of the characters made them sound snarky as hell, and it made them feel less like real characters and more like background cliches that inhabit every action film involving a cop as the main character.

For a film that's filed under the action genre, it's not a good sign when the actual action scenes manage to be mediocre, at best. The film also bears host to some of the worst slow motion I have seen in a film since The Last Airbender, it's the kind of slow-motion that makes you want to put on 300 and see a better use of slow-motion. We are also given a number of obligatory scenes that try to be emotional in order to make us care for these characters, but the problem is they're so generic that they don't resonate in the slightest. The opening scene gives us a cold open which, like many of the cold opens films manage to give us, feels unneeded and manages to be one of the weakest seen on screen.

The story should be straightforward, cop getting revenge on the killer of his wife and child, right? Wrong. The film adds in a subplot, involving the possibility of demons existing and murdering various characters. This unnecessary time waster gives us scenes which feel ripped-off from Constantine, a very underwhelming explanation and just leaves you feeling like the film would've better functioned without it.

They were ready to meet the director
Apart from the whole demons thing, the script is so by the numbers that a 3 year old could connect the dots. It also manages to be predictable, littered with plot holes and unafraid of employing long despised cliches. The sets are ghastly to the eyes, with the main problem being how fake the snowy settings look, how upon first sight, you know it's fake. The flashbacks try to distinguish themselves by employing an orange tint through the entire flashback scenes, and these just end up distracting you from anything else on-screen. The editing also manages to be problematic, as scenes and sound abruptly cuts, to the viewers annoyance.

After reading all of this, this film was nothing more than majorly mediocre for me, until I reached that scene. If you haven't seen the film, i'm not going to spoil it for you, all i'm going to say is that the film takes a ridiculous turn that feels like a sudden swerve into another film, ruining the one thing I actually liked about this film, and from that point on, the movie entered the last act and went from majorly mediocre into godawful video-game adaptation. The film's climax is meant to get your pulse racing and be one of the best moments of the film, but all it's shaky camera work self could elicit from me was the desire to have a power cut do what I was too weak to and end my viewing of this film.

Max Payne is one of the worst video-game adaptation films I have ever seen. It manages to take a well loved video game and tarnish the fans memories of it in every way possible. I have nothing positive to say about this film, only watch it if you're a critic looking a film to rip into.


I actually saw this movie in the theater on opening day and liked it. As an adaption, it's not good, but as a movie, it isn't bad. I liked the characters, setting, cinematography, lighting, style, and the acting was fine. The story for me was too complicated and there wasn't nearly enough action, but even so, I liked it as a movie.
Aditya Gokhale said…
wow have surely ripped the film apart!
Didn't think this would amount to much anyway!

Great review Rodders.
James Rodrigues said…
@Rafael A. I never played the Max Payne games so I wouldn't know how it holds up as an adaptation, but at least you enjoyed it more than I did

@Aditya I aim to tear movies I don't like to shreds in anyway I can, and this film gave me a lot to tear from.

Cheers for reading