Max Payne is a 2008 action film starring Mark Wahlberg as the title character. The film takes place in New York City, and follows a revenge storyline of Max Payne looking for the person who murdered his wife. Mila Kunis plays a supporting role as Mona Sax, a character who ends up teaming up with Max in his quest for vengeance. Max Payne truly is a film that fell short in many areas. The amount of action to drama was off for the entire film, the climax of the film was the worst part of the film, and the acting was sub-par at best.
Mark Wahlberg plays Max Payne. His wife has been killed, and Max was only able to kill two of the three people who committed that sin. He is the protagonist, and will do whatever it takes to kill the man who killed his wife. Mark doesn’t do a terrible job playing Max, as this seems to be the type of role he is best in, but it is certainly not his best role. The other actors were far worse, though. Mila Kunis was almost emotionless throughout the entire film, and other characters made you think that they just didn’t care about the film. Maybe this was done intentionally due to the film attempting to be “dark,” but it just comes off on-screen as a lack of caring on the part of the characters.
The film definitely gives the characters enough time to show they do care. The majority of the first hour is spent having Max talk to character after character, with very little action happening on-screen. I would wager about 1/6 of the first hour was action, while the rest was interrogations, quick talks with characters who don’t matter and flashbacks to Max’s past. I remember thinking at this part in the film that some more action scenes could help the film be better than it currently was. At this point, the film decided to go for an “all action, all the time” sequence, where Max gains super-soldier properties and decides to shoot up a building. This would work fairly well, and lead to an exciting final half hour, if the film didn’t begin really being ridiculous.
The way Max gains his super-soldier tendencies and abilities is well explained in the film, if a little obviously, but what happens on-screen is just silly. Max starts seeing the world in an interesting way, and begins having strange hallucinations. The audience must also be able to see this, but the background surrounding Max’s shootout becomes too distracting when contrasted with the action that is front and center. You can’t focus on what Max is actually doing, because what is in his mind manifests itself on-screen in a way that makes you only able to focus on it, essentially ruining what could have been the most exciting part of the movie.
Max Payne does not hold up well strictly as a film, much less as an adaptation of a game.
What good is there to say about the film? Well, not a whole lot. The bullet-time mechanics look cool, but they use them at the wrong times. Instead of allowing us to watch a bullet go through the air in an artistic and compelling way, it is used to see the trigger pulled slowly, and then the bullet continues at real-time. The story is your standard revenge film coupled with a drug plot that manages to mess up the actual revenge story. The plot also has a few elements that either have no place in the film or don’t quite make sense. The best part about the film is a really neat looking shotgun scene, but even that only lasts about 10 seconds, leaving the rest of the film to stand up to that, something it doesn’t even come close to doing. The violence and action that does occur in the first hour of the film does end up looking quite good, but sadly that is not quite enough to keep the film entertaining.
Max Payne is an ambitious work. Making a video game into a movie almost always is. Max Payne does not hold up well strictly as a film, much less as an adaptation of a game. The film suffers from sloppy acting, poor direction, a bad mix of action and drama as well as a climax that ends up being worse than the rest of the film. Fans of the video game weren’t happy with the film adaptation, and neither were most people looking for a fun action movie. It ends up being boring, hard to follow and not interesting in the least. Max Payne is not a film worth watching. Its stylistic violence keeps it together for the most part, but it ends up falling flat on its face when it tries anything else.
Conclusion: Max Payne is a failed adaptation of the video game.
Recommendation: Don’t watch Max Payne. Especially don’t watch Max Payne if you like the games.