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Max Payne (2008)

Directed by:

John Moore

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 100 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Somewhere near the end of Max Payne, Mona Sax, in an attempt to rally Max into continuing his fight against the bad guys, declares, “You’re not done yet.” “Why?” I asked out loud to my TV. “Why can’t I be done?” Here I was, not even 90 minutes into a movie that’s barely 100 minutes long, and I was reduced to pleading with the television. In the grand tradition of bad movie concepts, Max Payne is based on a video game – one that I never played, by the way – but I don’t think you should have to be a fan of the game to appreciate the movie. To appreciate the movie, there should be something to appreciate – and there’s just not.

DEA Agent Max Payne’s (Mark Wahlberg) wife and child are dead, and he’s made it his life’s mission to find the last and only surviving member of the trio who killed them. Up until now, he’s been helped along by his partner (Donal Logue), but when he winds up dead, too, Max is forced to team up with assassin Mona Sax (Mila Kunis) who happens to also be on the trail of whoever killed her sister. There’s something fishy going on with a mysterious winged tattoo that lots of dead people keep turning up with, and eventually, it all begins to lead back to a dangerous drug called Valkyr and some mean killer-types.

It’s an action movie with boring action. It’s a crime film with boring crime. Any way you look at it, Max Payne missed the mark. The problem isn’t with the actors – Wahlberg is a credible shoot-em-up hero, and Kunis pulls off intimidating way better than expected. They do what they can with the dreck they’re given, but even Marky Mark has his limits. The one positive note is that the CGI is really good, especially the hallucinatory fire bits with the birdy-things near the end, but all that proves is that the visual effects department was able to do their job well, something the rest of those involved weren’t able to do. At no time do we really care what’s going to happen next, and when everything that you’ve figured out from the beginning comes true in the end, it’s just one more big ol’ letdown. I can’t imagine that fans of the video game can feel good about this adaptation, because as a fan of movies in general, I know I sure don’t.

It's Got: Nice CGI, decent performances by Wahlberg and Kunis.

It Needs: Better action, better story, better pace - to be better!

DVD Extras Theatrical and Unrated Extended Cut of the film; Commentary with John Moore (director), Daniel Dorrance (production designer) and Everett Burrell (visual effects supervisor); One featurette on Picture Production; Animated Graphic Novel; Unrated Digital Copy (5/10) DVD Extras Rating: 5/10

Alternatives:

Hitman, Shooter, The Departed

Summary

Simply giving a guy a sad back-story doesn’t make him an interesting character, especially in a slow action movie where the action is dull and the story stops mattering five minutes in.

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