The Oct/08 film Max Payne sees yet another in a long line of video game-to-movie releases.However unlike some of its' predecessors this one does not come even close to the excitement,intensity and depth of the game it is based on.The plot is as see through as cellophane and as shallow as a baby's' bath water.
The film opens as Max(Mark Wahlberg)is swimming for his life in freezing water and near death.The movie back flashes to a week before and we retrace the steps which led to this moment.We find Max working in a cold case file room at a police station somewhere in NYC.He lost his wife and baby three years before in a brutal murder mystery that he has been trying to solve ever since. Following a hunch he goes to an old snitches' apartment where there is a "party" taking place.There he meets Natasha(Olga Kunylenko)who takes a liking to him.Her sister is Mona Sax(Mila Kunis) and she is there with her gang;Russians of whom she is the leader.Mona tries to stop her sister from carrying on but is assuaged by Natasha who leaves with Max.Max takes her back to his apartment but she leaves shortly thereafter when he spurns her advances.On the way back home she is killed.
The next day Max's ex partner takes him to the crime scene and reveals his wallet was found near the body.Max explains that she stole it but circumstances don't look good.They part on bad terms but later his old partner phones him with information that might be the key to the mystery of his wifes' death.Max finds him dead at his home,where a struggle ensues and Max blacks out.He wakes up to find an old friend of his father,BB Hensley(Beau Bridges),by his bedside in the hospital.BB is now head of security of the Aesir Corporation;the same company his wife worked for.
Max continues his quest and finds some of the evidence his ex partner left behind and it is the tattoos of wings that are on the murder victims which correspond to the wings logo on all Aesir documents.BB fears for Max but can do nothing to stop him.He next interrogates an Aesir employee who finally spills the beans on what happened to his late wife and baby.As he escorts him out his office the witness is killed and Max barely escapes with his life.He takes the evidence to Natasha's sister Mona.It seems the Aesir Corp.has been illegally manufacturing and selling a drug called Valkyr(val-keer)that comes in a small vile.It had been originally designed for military troops but the drugs' terrible side effects forced the company to(officially)withdraw it from production. The company has been using an ex marine,Sgt Jack Lupino,as their pusher,but he has gotten way out of control.Mona tells Max where he can find Lupino which takes him to a local club called Ragnarock.When Max finally confronts Lupino BB "happens "upon the scene and saves his life by killing Lupino.
We next find Max and BB down by the harbour which BB intends to throw him into with viles of Valkyr on him to make it look like a drug killing.After a short struggle Max gets free but his only option is to jump into the icy cold harbour.This is where we came in.Max barely makes it out alive and the only thing that saves him from hypothermia are the viles of Valkyr he ingests.He heads straight for the Aesir tower to get BB and ends up cornering him on the roof helio-pad.There he shoots BB dead and the movie ends as the sun comes up on another day.
There are many direct and indirect references in the film to the game such as the subway station called Roscoe Street,which the film gets to a ways in.This is where the game itself pretty much starts as Max tells us(in the game)"Death was in the air at Roscoe Street".Then there is the look of the film which matches the game quite well;the constant snow falling.The Aesir Corp.,is pronounced "Acer" in the game but starngely two ways in the film,"Acer" and "A-seer".The final line from the film matches that of the game:"I don't know about heaven,but I believe in angels".However many of the characters names,ethnicities and importance in plot have been changed around,sometimes more than others.The game sees Max go from one clue to the next which leads to the final battle at Aesir plaza and the taking down of the person responsible for it all;the president of the company a Ms Horne,as he blows up her helicopter as she flees.In the film Ms Horne is more of a shadowy figure who just pulls the strings with the ultimate fight going between Max and his old fathers friend BB;with the helio-pad as just a point of reference.The Russians in the game have far more of a presence but are not headed by Mona.Mona in the game is just a colleague of Max's.Throughout the film we are given the impression that the cops suspect Max himself but they never fire on him.In the game Max is pursued and shot at not only by the bad guys but the NYPD all the way through to the end.Lastly while Jim Bravura in the game is a white stereotypical NYPD cop who appears on TV newcasts and is constantly dogging the heels of Max,in the film they have turned him black and he is now just an ineffectual internal investigator played like a piece of cardboard by rapper Ludicris.
The characters and action are all shallow and cartoonish such as when Max gets shot twice and both times there is no further reference to them and he just keeps going.Or when Max,for some reason,heads down an alley and ends up at the end of it walking backwards and getting a gun pointed at his head from around a corner.It is such a bone head move one wishes one had game control of him,because YOU wouldn't have made such a stupid and obvious error.By the way the person who "surprises" him is Mona,Natasha's sister.While in the Aesir building Mona comes out of nowhere to appear and saves Max's life;no rhyme nor reason except to keep Max alive until the end of the picture.I'm usually terrible at figuring out who did it ahead of time but it is not far into the film and you just KNOW that BB is the one behind all the goings on;it is just too obvious.
The DVD technically is presented in its original widescreen ratio of 2:35:1 and has been transferred well.This is the two disc edition and special features include director and production designer commentary,the trailer,a featurettes,and a semi animated graphic novel,all on the first disc,and the second disc contains only the digital copy.The DVD does include the theatrical and unrated versions but believe me there is a little difference between the two versions that would make one better over the other.
I always hope that the film versions of video games will at least try and aspire to come up to a modicum of the games original intents,feel and excitement.While many have,this one doesn't.It is great to see Beau Bridges once again as one doesn't see enough of this good actor,but he got caught in a poke this time which is unfortunate.The film is just too flimsy and shallow for anyone to rise above its' mundane foundation.I would never pay full price for this DVD nor even $5 at the bargain bin at Wal-Mart,it is so poor.I would advise you to pick up the original video game(available on many platforms)and play it yourself for a much more intense,enjoyable and satisfying experience and give THIS Max Payne a pass or you will find yourself having your own Payne-ful experience!