Release Date: October 17, 2008
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis,
Beau Bridges, Chris
“Ludacris” Bridges, Chris
O’Donnell, Donal Logue,
Amaury Nolasco, Kate Burton,
and Olga Kurylenko
Genre: Detective Thriller
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 99 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: John Moore
Executive Producer: Rick Yorn, Karen Lauder and
Producer: Julie Yorn, Scott Faye and
Writer: Beau Thorne
Address Comments To:Rupert Murdoch, Chairman/CEO of News Corp.
Peter Chernin, President/COO of The Fox Group
Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos, Chairmen/CEO
Fox Filmed Entertainment
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
(Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic)
10201 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-1000
Director John Moore of BEHIND ENEMY LINES and FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX brings a popular video game to life with MAX PAYNE. Enhanced with some fancy sets, striking effects and an impressive cast, the movie, especially the script, fails to deliver total satisfaction.
Detective Max Payne (played by Mark Wahlberg) lost his wife and child to murder. One of the murderers escaped and was never caught. This pushes Max into a downward spiral of depression, seclusion, anger, and an obsession for revenge. Although he is seeking justice and punishment for the criminal who got away, he is not motivated by a lawful conclusion to the matter. When a connection is finally made, between the brutal murder of a young woman and his wife, Payne is thrust into the dark underworld of drug use and with “following” an ancient Norse religious superstition. He suddenly finds himself surrounded by violence, suspicion, and a supernatural “atmosphere” he cannot understand. To complicate his life even further, his fellow police officers believe Max is the guilty party, and not the dark group with the mysterious wing tattoos.
The production quality of MAX PAYNE is superb and has a great look visually and stylistically. The set, which reportedly took eight months to build, brings the dark world of Payne to life. All the lead actors do an adequate job with their roles. The story is unique, but the script leaves something to be desired. The hero is so melancholy and angry over his wife’s death that it is hard to identify with him. There are no lengthy scenes of how well he related to his wife and baby that would help viewers sympathize with him when they die. There is little joy in the third act, therefore, when the movie finally reveals the bad guys to the hero. Finally, at the end, the hero takes revenge rather than justice.
The filmmakers unnecessarily fill their movie with 32 obscenities and profanities. These add nothing to the story and would have not been missed had they been omitted. There was also a needless moment of seeing a beautiful woman in her underwear trying to seduce Max. Also, a great deal of violence takes place between Max and the villains. The one positive note regarding the violence is that it was not very graphic and or bloody. Viewers don’t see the hero’s wife and baby get killed, nor do they see a character’s body dismembered.
Besides the foul language and the movie’s revenge motif, the biggest problem with MAX PAYNE is its confused and vague worldview. There are references to solider angels from Norse mythology, but viewers only see drug-induced hallucinations of dark flying angels or demons. In the beginning, Max says he believes in death and pain rather than Heaven, but at the end, after seeing visions of his wife and baby in the afterlife, he says, “I don’t know about Heaven but I do believe in angels.” This confusion will not inspire many viewers. Neither does the rest of MAX PAYNE.
The production quality of Max Payne is superb and has a great look visually and stylistically. The set, which reportedly took 8 months to build, brings the dark world of Max Payne to life. The acting is good, but the script leaves something to be desired. It contains loose ends and a dark, uninspiring hero. Besides the foul language and the revenge motif, the biggest problem with MAX PAYNE is its confused and vague pagan worldview. Not much is explained, including some cryptic statements about the Devil and God, and unresolved visions of darkness and light. Ultimately, MAX PAYNE offers little.