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Max Payne

Max PayneDirected by: John Moore Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Chris O'Donnell, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges Time: 1 hr 50 mins Rating: PG-13

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Plot: Based on the popular shoot-em-up video game comes the story of DEA agent Max Payne ( Mark Wahlberg) who now works the cold cases in an attempt to solve (and avenge) his wife and daughter's murder. Max begins to piece together a conspiracy with the help of an assassin (Mila Kunis).

Who’s It For? Max Payne gamers and fans of Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg is always fun to watch and he unfailingly respects the role and his audience, even if Hollywood does not.

Expectations: I am a gamer. One of those rabid gamers. Actually, I'm about three inches from dressing up as Lara Croft and heading off to the nearest convention. Therefore, I really wanted this to be a cut above the other movies based on video games, and not because I was particularly attached to the idea. The previews looked uber-cool and I thought Mark Walhberg was the perfect choice as Max Payne. That being said, I couldn't let my expectations get too high, because I've been hurt before. I went in really hoping, though.


Actors: Mark Wahlberg as Max Payne: Walhberg works his ass off in this silly movie, when all the other actors still seem to be warming up. If any of the other actors could have kept up with him, it would have resulted in a better movie. Unfortunately, he's the only one who's figured out that acting means more than dressing up and belting out lines with no sense of timing or intonation. Walhberg is weighed down by his mediocre supporting cast, the below-average writing, and a director with split personalities (It's good! It's bad! It's average! It's good!). Score: 6

Mila Kunis as Mona Sax: I'm all for tough chicks, because, well, I am one (Eeeek! Someone else's hair is in my food!). But, I'm not as taken with the "bad girl" blow up doll fantasy, which, admittedly, there are a lot of in video games. So, maybe it's faithful to the story, but it's boring as all hell. What's the difference between Milla Jovovich's Alice from Resident Evil and Kunis' Mona from Max Payne? Think two completely different planets, and only one of those planets could actually kick your butt. Score: 3

Beau Bridges as BB Hensley: Yikes! Beau, say it isn't so! Maybe he won't be so distracting for a younger audience that will have no clue who he is, but the second he was introduced, I knew the twist. And, frankly, he doesn't do so hot (he used to be able to act, right? Am I right?). It seemed like he didn't take the role that seriously, and therefore every time he was onscreen, it reminded you that you were sitting in a theater watching a movie, and I hate that. Score: 3

Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges as Jim Bravura: Unexceptional and written that way. He doesn't help or harm the film. Oftentimes, he's inadvertently funny by being overly dramatic, but Walhberg is almost always there to salvage the rest of the scene. Score: 2

Chris O'Donnell as Jason Colvin: Have you found yourself wondering what Chris O'Donnell is doing these days? Well, now you know. It's strange, because he's actually a better actor than a lot of the others, but he's on the screen for like fifteen seconds. Someone should've given him a bigger role. Did he really purposefully audition for "Sniper Fodder?" Since, Beau Bridges is a black hole of depth or believability, why not put O'Donnell in that role? Bummer for Chris--he wouldn't have wasted as many scenes. Score: 5

Talking: The dialogue is functional, because it is there merely as a device to further the plot. It's like describing how to make a peanut butter sandwich (you know, except with flying demons and explosions and stuff)--it doesn't have to be poetic, it just has to provide you with a finished product at the end. And it's utter lack of creativity and total devotion to functionality would have been just fine, if Wahlberg was the only one saying the lines. Unfortunately, they let the other people talk, too. Score: 4

Sights & Sounds: The special effects are so beautiful, I squealed with happy glee whenever one of the winged demons soared into the scenery. That being said, the demons were barely in the film. It is so rare these days when I find special effects that actually add to the movie (All of the Lord of the Rings films, The Host, Ironman) instead of dangling like a shiny, pretty, and expensive bauble. I really enjoyed the effects in Max Payne and some of the scenery was just gorgeous, but there wasn't enough of it. Score: 7


Best Scene: Wahlberg is dropped into an icy river and the underwater perspective of his figure surrounded by a halo of filtered light is so stunning, I'd actually hang it on my wall. The scene with Lincoln Deneuf, the prophet (Jamie Hector), is also extremely well-done (hence its predominance in the previews), but irrelevent and nonsensical in the grand scheme of the actual plot.

Ending: Props to Mr. Wahlberg for the scene where he faces a swirling maelstrom of hell and demons. He is on his knees, head back and screaming, and he isn't exaggerated or cartoonish. I didn't even start to roll my eyes even once, and that is huge for me. The very ending is as abrupt and unimaginative as the rest of the film, but again, Wahlberg's there! It's like that really sucky party--at least Wahlberg's there!

Questions: So, Kunis is an assassin who runs around on six-inch stilettos? That's how she sneaks around in alleyways and through abandoned buildings? CLACK-CLACK-CLACK (pause to glance sneakily around a corner), CLACKCLACKCLACK (steps back into the shadows) CLACK CLACK CLACK... Oh, and one more thing: what is with the cheesy voice overs? BAD, Hollywood! Take a time out in the corner!

Rewatchability: Nah. It was mildly fun the first time, but there's nothing you'd want to catch the second time around. Walhberg's awesome, though--did I mention that? No?

OVERALL If not for Wahlberg (should I just build the guy a shrine, or what?), Max Payne probably would've been a total loss. What is the problem, people? Why is it so hard to turn a video game into a movie, when most video games have extremely involved storylines and complex characters? And you managed to get Wahlberg to sign on, who has his own factor--i.e. you give the movie the benefit of the doubt because he's in it. I feel the same way about Will Smith, George Clooney, and Tina Fey. Sure, it doesn't look that promising, but so-and-so is in it, so at least it's got that much going for it. I'm not going to put Max Payne on par with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider when it comes to movies with vast potential that broke my heart and crushed my soul, but really, how can you mess this up? Mark Walhberg + tortured past + seedy underworld + slow-mo gun fights + demons with big wings = AWESOME MOVIE EXPERIENCE. Hollywood continues to crank out these movies that blow, when all they have to do is try, just a smidge, to actually respect the immense originality of the gaming industry. You guys suck for getting my hopes up, yet again. I'll hold my breath for Prince of Persia.

Final Score: 3/10

The Class