Sunday, October 26, 2008

Max Payne

Year: 2008
Director: John Moore
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Ludacris, Amaury Nolasco, Chris O'Donnell, Olga Kurylenko

It's been quite a long hiatus from updating this blog, and now I've got computer problems too. But still, I've got this review to write, so here we go.

Max Payne is based on the popular videogame of the same name, and it tells the story of a cop named Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg), who hasn't been the same after the murder of his wife and child. Although he's been assigned to the cold case department, he still continues to investigate his family's death on his own.

One of his leads brings him to a Russian girl, Natasha (current Bond girl Olga Kurylenko). Later, Natasha winds up dead and Max is the prime suspect. Max's former partner Alex Balder (Donal Logue) knows Max is innocent, and discovers a connection between Natasha's death and the men who killed Max's family. But before he can tell Max, he winds up dead too.

With two people dead, Max teams up with Natasha's sister, Mona Sax (Mila Kunis) to find the men responsible. At the same time, Max's mentor BB Hensley (Beau Bridges) tries his best to keep Max out of trouble with the law, particularly Internal Affairs detective Jim Bravura (Ludacris).

If there's one thing that had me going for this film, it's the packaging. Director John Moore (Flight Of the Phoenix, Behind Enemy Lines) creates a comicbook like world where everything looks mostly bleak and grey, and the special effects used during the drug induced sequences are very cool. It also has an ass kicking soundtrack, and I also loved the innovative closing credit sequence, even though it makes the film look even more like a video game.

But unfortunately, the film fails elsewhere. Despite having a very capable cast, the script doesn't give them much to do or realistic things to say, except for Wahlberg, who's obviously the main star here. He fares only slightly better than in The Happening, giving yet another sterile performance. Bridges, whom I've not seen on film in a long time, does well in his mentor role. Kunis and Ludacris are wasted in this film, and it's sad, since I wanted to see more of Kunis in a darker role after watching her on That 70s Show, and Ludacris is a decent actor himself. Amaury Nolasco, who plays the villain Lupino, gets very little screen time as well.

Despite the film being 90 minutes long, it feels draggy, and the action sequences only start kicking in the last third of the film. And the ending doesn't quite feel complete either. Max Payne reminds me a lot of Hitman, another action film based on a videogame that also starred Olga Kurylenko. The similarities are apparent, though Hitman is a tad more daring in its execution. Here in Max Payne, there is a potential R-rated scene which was oddly altered, probably to qualify for the PG-13 rating to boost ticket sales.

It's not a bad film, but it's not very good either. It's too easy to forget you've watched it. (3.5/5)

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