Max Payne is Painful to the Max

In the history of this blog, I’ve called a lot of movies “shitty.” Some of them might not have really deserved that. Some of them were probably “bad” or perhaps “average.” But if they pissed me off, I went for the “shitty” rating because they wasted my time. Max Payne made me re-evaluate everything I thought I knew about movie reviewing. Max Payne plumbs new depths in the world of shitty film-making. I wish I had a score lower than “shitty” because that is what Max Payne deserves.

Max Payne is a movie based on a video game based on film noir. In the game, detective Max Payne investigates the murder of his wife and child, and in doing so, gets involved in innumerable gun fights. It’s an action game, so it’s to be expected. One of the things that separated Max Payne from other games of the time was that it incorporated slow-motion “bullet-time” as a game mechanic. It made the frenzied shoot-outs manageable, and added an extra layer of fun.

As a movie, Max Payne does everything wrong. It’s based on a shooter game, so you’d think it would contain a plethora of action scenes. Well, it doesn’t have any action until a full hour into its one hour and forty minute runtime. That’s right. A full two-thirds of the movie is dedicated to fantastic dialogue and insightful character development. Nah, I’m kidding. It’s just Mark Wahlberg brooding and screaming at people.

But when the action gets going, it’s pretty awesome, right? Wrong. It’s terrible. It’s just random shooting with no attention paid to giving the scenes any kind of flair or originality. It’s pretty much just Wahlberg running down straight corridors shooting people with his pistol, while they shoot at him (and miss) with machine guns.

But the bullet-time is pretty sweet, right? Nope. They don’t even use bullet-time. The main fucking reason the video game was a hit wasn’t even exploited for the film. There is no slow-motion camera-panning like in The Matrix. There is only a single, incredibly long slow-motion shot where Wahlberg kills a guy with a shotgun. How goddamn incompetent do you have to be to not even include the gimmick of the game that your movie is based upon?

It’s not just the action that sucks. Everything sucks. The dialogue is as ham-fisted as it comes. No one speaks or behaves remotely believably. Everyone speaks in clichés and bitter undertones. The film noir vibe they were going for is completely lost. The filmmakers have no understanding what makes film noir work. Film noir has cynicism underpinned by clever writing. You can’t just have angry people growling at each other in a dark room.

The story is incomprehensible. Max Payne’s family was murdered as a result of some non-sensical conspiracy. They were killed by junkies who were getting experimental drugs from a Pharmaceutical company, and their head of security happened to be Max Payne’s father’s former partner and he had the family murdered because some fucking reasons. Yeah, don’t try to figure it out, don’t waste your time.

I can’t imagine why anyone signed up to be in this movie. Maybe the script was more robust and made more sense, and all that got torn to pieces during the actual filmmaking? That could be the case. There are plot threads that go nowhere, and characters that are pointless and interchangeable. For example, a new character, who is meant to be Wahlberg’s colleague in the “Cold Case Department” is given a tour and introduced to Wahlberg, only to never be seen again. Ludacris plays another cop who is sort of pointless. Chris O’Donnell comes completely out of left field halfway through the movie, and what purpose he serves is completely opaque.

Wahlberg seems angry that he’s in this giant piece of shit. When he doesn’t look completely fucking depressed, he’s growling and brooding and looking like he has to take a dump. Wahlberg is capable of being good given the right material (for example, The Departed), but in the wrong hands, he’s terrible.

They somehow even managed to make Mila Kunis look ugly. She wears ten-inch stiletto heels, yet looks like she is only three feet tall and fifty pounds overweight. Her performance is perhaps the most ridiculous of them all, putting on a “tough girl” persona that’s more laughable than intimidating.

Not even the villain, Beau Bridges, can save the film. He doesn’t chew scenery or wax grandiose, or do anything that villains tend to do. He looks like a deer in the headlights. He’s totally confused for half the film, and it seems like he forgot to take his Aricept.

The visual style does look like it came from the game, but with an over-reliance on black-and-white, snow, and dark alleyways, it comes across more as aping Sin City’s style than presenting anything unique. There are also some really unfortunate CGI demons in the movie that are completely out of place, and ruin any sense of seriousness the movie had going for it.

Director John Moore, the moron behind the horrible A Good Day to Die Hard, directed this piece of shit. That should really come as no surprise. He is the hack to end all hacks. A horrible director who only takes on projects because no one else will touch them with a ten foot pole. His lack of story-telling sense and directorial capabilities sank this movie hard. A good director might have made it work, but a bad director turned it into an abomination.

Verdict: Shitty

9 Responses to “Max Payne is Painful to the Max”

  1. 1 Themaster20000
    April 3, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    I was honestly expecting your epic review on the cinematic train wreck known as Batman v Superman. Anyway,great piece as usual! Really felt your anger in this one. Saw bits of the film and it is quite a fucking joke.Even more so considering you’d could’ve made a good action film out of the material.

    • April 4, 2016 at 10:04 am

      I haven’t seen Batman v Superman yet. Not sure if I’m willing to throw my money away like that. Anyway, yeah, I wanted to leave an appropriately epic rant after taking a week off, and this seemed to do so nicely. Thanks for the comment.

  2. April 6, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Max Payne is one of those films I always forget I’ve seen. Because my brain is kind enough to wipe all knowledge of the fact that I have in fact seen it. Entirely shitty. You did the shittyness proud with this review.

  3. 5 Jonny2x4
    April 7, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    The fact that this was directed by the same hack who later went on to direct the worst Die Hard sequel says a lot about its pedigree.

  4. April 8, 2016 at 4:11 am

    Wow, this is a total, utter evisceration of a film! Love your work! I admit I haven’t seen this one because the reviews have been scathing, but I often think about giving it a shot just to see for myself how utterly awful it is…. you know, to laugh at. LOL

    • April 8, 2016 at 7:49 am

      Thanks, Rodney, I’m glad you liked this one. I eviscerated this one because it had been such a long time since I had seen a movie this bad. If you want to see if, well, consider yourself warned.

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April 2016


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