| The Red Right Hand
First off, I'm an immense fan of the Max Payne video games; I rate them up there with the Silent Hill and Final Fantasy series'. Going into the screening I knew this film was going to be abysmal. I was instilled with a brief sense of hope from the trailers but I just... knew it would be lame. The film opened on Mark Wahlberg's raspy narration - to be honest, it didn't really hold up to the game's opening narration but they were on the right track - but quickly disintegrated into a mediocre cop thriller.
Despite being a poor adaptation, the film does follow a large chunk of the game's plot with varying degrees of loyalty. Max Payne [Wahlberg] is a New York cop who lost his wife and newborn daughter at the hands of junkie burglars. In seeking revenge he explores every dead-end case, attempting to gain some sort of closure by dispatching criminals and nailing the coffin on unsolvable cases. Somehow the worst drug populating the streets (Valkyr), the company that inadvertently created it, a handful of crooked cops and his family's demise are all seemingly connected.
Although the casting of Mila Kunis to play Mona and Wahlberg to play Payne seemed to work out visually, I can't say they really got their heads around the characters. For whatever reason, Wahlberg seemed to sleepwalk his way through most of the film, while Kunis simply didn't seem to get that she was a trained killer for hire. In addition to the actors not understanding their purpose, it would seem the genre got a little lost too. The video games were essentially a tribute to noir detective voice-overs and John Woo slow-mo action sequences; the film, however, seemed to contain little of either, pursuing some very slow and random plot threads. In attempting to portray a loyal telling of the game, the film-makers should have aimed higher than a very tame 15 and gunned for an 18 rating; more guns, more blood, more noir. It's not just that Max Payne is a bad film - I'm sure some people will find it entertaining - it's the fact that the source was so impressive and inspired that tampering with it to produce this watered-down version seems completely mindless.
In the end Max Payne was just one of those dumb adaptations that should have been scripted and directed by a true fan of the series and the whole noir genre - but as the man said, "Throw the rules out the window, odds are you'll go that way too."
14th November 2008
The Scene To Look Out For:
**Minor spoiler within**
The problem with highlighting a scene from this film is that apart from the piss-poor editing, the overall effect was so very, very dull. There were, however, two points that stick in my (side, like a thorn) mind. The first was a rather realistic piece of prosthetic makeup that effectively gave Chris O'Donnell a broken nose; I can only imagine Wahlberg screaming "That's for Batman & Robin, you podgy git!" between takes - I know I would. And the second was Max being blasted with a shotgun at point-blank but it was ok because he was infused with a drug that makes him invincible. Come on! Even gamers would have a hard time believing that crap.
I don't really think I had a favourite character. I thought the inclusion of the Valkyries as actual winged delusions was an interesting concept but did seem to scream Constantine - not necessarily a bad thing, unless you're trying to make a dark action-noir piece, in which case it doesn't really work. I suppose if I was forced to pick I would say Nelly Furtado as Max's dead partner's wife... because that was just a prime example of pointless cameo casting.
STUDIO EXEC: I know! Let's get that Nelly Furtado chick in to play Balder's widow! Yeah! My kids love her and she's perfect for this role. 'Cause, you know, she's like a bird, she wants to fly away... or whatever the fuck that song was about.
"In a nightmare every choice you make is the wrong one"
In A Few Words:
"As a fan of the game I was insulted and as a cinemagoer I was bored; not exactly the best of combinations"