Max Payne

2008-12-12 10:16
Max Payne
What it's about:

Based on the popular interactive shooting video game of the same name, NYPD detective Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) is obsessed with tracking down and bringing to justice those responsible for the brutal murder of his wife and baby daughter three years before. A series of unique tattoos leads Payne to the dark underworld where he becomes involved in the investigation of a woman’s murder. He teams up with a beautiful assassin (Mila Kunis) who is out to avenge her sister’s death. Shadowed by Internal Affairs detective Jim Bravura (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and assisted by his late father's ex-cop partner B.B. (Beau Bridges), Payne is drawn deeper into an investigation where truth and reality become increasingly blurred.

What we thought of it:

The pleasure you’ll get out of Max Payne will depend largely on whether you’re a fan of the original video games, eagerly anticipating the big screen adaptation, or whether you’re a regular Joe who’s never heard of the game and looking for a good night out full of action, thrills and suspense. And neither camps stand to gain much from the experience.

The original Max Payne game released in 2001 is a third-person shooter game, famous for incorporating the "bullet time" slow motion effect into gameplay, popularised by The Matrix two years earlier. "Third person", of course, refers to games where the player sees the main character at a distance from a number of different possible angles as opposed to "first person" games where the player views everything through the character’s eyes.

The original game (and its subsequent sequels, including a Game Boy version) had major cinematic influences in the Hong Kong action movie scene spearheaded by director John Woo, and a unique noir style which favoured night and outdoor scenes in driving rain or snow.

Against these seemingly ideal ingredients for a big screen adaptation, a plot that has enough to keep you interested and a cast which includes all-round tough guy Mark Wahlberg, sexy on-screen sisters Mila Kunis and (soon-to-be Bond Girl) Olga Kurylenko as well as Amaury Nolasco (of Prison Break fame), gamers would be excused for expecting a really great movie.

Unfortunately, despite staying true to the game’s plot, its excellent production design and dark, sexy visuals, there is more pain than gain to be had from what is being billed as a cinematic event.

Wahlberg plays the tortured anti-hero seeking revenge to perfection. Mila Kunis’ role as the femme fatale partner isn’t fully explored while Bridges' performance feels overplayed at times. Singer Nelly Furtado makes a confident movie debut but Chris O'Donnell – once a Hollywood heartthrob during his 90s heyday - is wasted in a forgettable and weak role.

Despite the critical mauling Max Payne has suffered in the US, it still shot to the top of the box office charts there, proving that sometimes style does win over substance. And no doubt audiences in South Africa will be feeling the same way and flocking to see this in their droves.

- Ronald Bach

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Max Payne, an undercover DEA agent, is framed for the murder of a fellow agent and seeks to avenge the Mafia slayings of his wife and child.

Bjorn 2008/10/24 8:17 AM
Max Payne Max Payne rules
Mort 2008/10/24 4:00 PM
Payne I've never played the video game but this looks good to me. Will defs check it out, even though the reviews have been less than flattering
Janet 2008/10/24 4:57 PM
Max Payne I am going to see it tonite, booked my ticket early- and am sure will enjoy. It is good seeing something to take your mind off our problems, financial meltdown etc.... Live a little -
Julie 2008/11/04 9:08 AM
Ai what a waste of time I really could not wait to see this and rushed off to the cinema as soon as I could. I was very disappointed. It felt like to movie dragged on and I could not shake the feeling that this was only a set-up for a sequel. Bored half way through I found myself wishing I had rather gone to watch Hellboy - at least it packs a punch.
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