Review by Jack Foley
NOT so long ago, Mark Wahlberg found himself being pursued by the wind in M Night Shyamalan’s ill-fated The Happening. Now, he’s hunting hallucinatory demons in the equally wretched Max Payne. You have to ask, what the hell is happening to his career?
Directed by John (The Omen) Moore, the film is yet another video game to film translation that simply doesn’t cut it. The plotting is woeful, the action pedestrian and the performances phoned in at best.
Max Payne (Wahlberg) is a former DEA Agent desperate to find the killers responsible for the massacre of his family. Teaming up with an assassin (Mila Kunis) who wants revenge for the slaying of her sister (Olga Kurylenko), he sets about uncovering the truth behind a sinister organisation which may hold the key to some of the answers.
In game form, the Max Payne franchise (warning, it has a sequel!) has sold over seven million copies and was once considered one of the world’s most popular third person shoot ‘em ups. In film guise, however, it suffers from all the usual problems of games-based movies and was arguably much more fun to actually play than to sit and watch.
Beau Thorne’s screenplay barely makes sense and is needlessly convoluted, while attempts to spice up the action by employing a special motion camera style known as Phantom, which offers a new spin on the bullet time format pioneered by The Matrix, just feels desperate.
The snowy backdrops do at least make things easy on the eye, as does an all too fleeting from current Bond babe Olga Kurylenko as a vampish temptress.
But given the lacklustre nature of the plot, none of the actors look particularly interested – with Wahlberg’s central character, especially, suffering from shoddy characterisation. Support players such as Beau Bridges, Chris O’Donnell and Prison Break star Amaury Nolasco are equally short-changed.
In the end, this is an incomprehensible bore of a movie that’s one long Payne in the backside. Hopefully, Wahlberg’s next two movies – The Lovely Bones and Darren Aronofsky’s The Fighter – will improve his flagging fortunes.
Running time: 100mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: April 13, 2009