By Kraznor 2 Comments
Well, just returned from seeing Max Payne and still trying to process what I just experienced. Okay, if there is one thing I like almost as much as video-games its movies so I've seen a fair share this past year, some of them really terrible such as "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" and "The Mummy 3". But wow, Max Payne is almost certainly the worst film of 2008. And that isn't just because it completely fails to live up to the source material (more on that in a minute), but its just an extremely poorly made piece of film-making. From the script to the acting to the action sequences, everything is unbelievably bad.
Alright, I'm a big fan of the Max Payne games. I've beaten both of them several times and really enjoy the over-the-top action and awesome sense of style those games convey. In contrast, aside from a minor scuffle in the opening five minutes of the film there is literally no gunfire of any kind until the forty-five minute mark. Think about it, a game that is essentially all about insane gunfights turns into a movie with no action whatsoever for half of its running time. Furthermore, when the guns actually do start firing there is none of that style or absurdity that makes the games so great. There is one sequence approximating bullet-time but its underwhelming in every respect. Wait a second, ITS A MAX PAYNE MOVIE, ITS SHOULD BE ALL BULLET-TIME ALL THE TIME!!! Sorry, but seriously, that was the game's main hook and its completely neglected in favor of endless scenes of poorly delivered, terrible dialogue. Following is an example (minor spoilers, but really, who cares).
Mona Sax is holding Max at gunpoint, convinced he is responsible for her sister's death
Max Payne: We're looking for the same person!
Mona: Yeah...YOU!! (smacks him in the face)
...think about that for a second. Oh, did I mention Mona is played by Mila Kunis of "That 70s Show" fame? Needless to say, she can't really play a convincing Femme Fatale. Not that it matters as Mona is really a pointless character in the film, which doesn't even attempt to develop the love story between her and Max featured so prominently in the games. In fact, I'm going to sum up everything in this movie that is actually derived from the games. Don't worry, its a short list.
1) The character's names
2) The basic premise involving the murder of Max's family and a pharmaceutical company being behind it (though this isn't resolved by the end of the film, possible sequel?)
3) At one point there is a club named Ragnarock.
4) It ends on a helicopter landing pad atop a skyscraper (minus the battle with a helicopter...)
Thats pretty much it. I guess you could argue the film maintains the noir look and feel but its handled so poorly and takes itself so seriously it really doesn't reflect what made the game good.
I simply don't understand how Max Payne was turned into such an uninteresting mess of a movie. The game its based on is basically an interactive action-movie, borrowing a great many elements from John Woo films like "Hard Boiled" or "Hard Target". So all you need to do is make a movie like that and there you go, not try to make it a dialogue-driven mystery story.
I'll close with another list, this time of better Max Payne-related things you could spend your money on.
1) Buy both Max Payne one and two for 15 dollars through Steam (if you were to factor in snack costs, actually cheaper than seeing the movie)
2) See "Wanted" in a budget theater near you. It provides all the absurd action and bullet-time this movie should have had.
3) Rent (or perhaps buy) "Shoot 'em Up". Not a great film, but one that at least captures the fast paced, action-filled feel of the Max Payne games.
4) Watch or re-watch "Hard Boiled" or any other John Woo film (other than MI2 or Windtalkers).
5) Buy some plastic guns at a dollar store and dive around your living room while making gun sounds with your mouth.
6) Buy two meatball subs and give one to a homeless man. You'll feel good about yourself and have a hearty meal.