A pain for all the wrong reasons...
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''I don't know about Heaven, but I believe in angels.''
Coming together to solve a series of murders in New York City are a DEA agent whose family was slain as part of a conspiracy and an assassin out to avenge her sister's death. The duo will be hunted by the police, the mob, and a ruthless corporation...
Mark Wahlberg: Max Payne
Let's start of by saying I rally loved the Max Payne video games, in their simplistic nature of fast paced shooting accompanied by an interesting concept of Matrix styled Bullet Time shoot outs. Also a hero with so much pain and anguish, so much so he has to take pain killers to numb himself from the experience. So how does the film live up to these expectations everyone asks? Well quite frankly it does not in the slightest match any of the games. The script is appalling, for it's genre there is no action, there is no decent dialogue, there are no similarities to the game for us to latch onto apart from the superficial visual ones we gained from the trailers.
Recalling my mind back to the action sequences in question, I can only recall only two main ones of consequence. Director John Moore succeeds in giving us no wish for any sequels and a comical rendition of Robbie Williams Angels song on the Credits, just to put salt upon the wound.
The Score and music on Max Payne is poor and executed to a point where it is hardly memorable or effective, some scenes being totally void of any music that would emphasis a standard fare of happening to a higher perspective of sorts. Yet no, we are given chaotic alternative loudness of no specific genre that gives the film no soul or resonance that it sorely needs. To say the least what I expected and what I was given on teasers was mysteriously missing from the proceedings.
So Max Payne begins with a segment that is such a rip off, of the Bourne series, its untrue. Underwater and a growling excuse for narration, we are pummeled into boredom before things even begin to take flight. It starts to look up when we have a cool looking 'One Week Later' motto on a building come up, then some cool angles and shots, which happen to tell us the rooms of the Police Station, for us dumb Viewers which we assume the Director assumed. When we see Max Payne in his office, I'm scrambling my brain trying to decipher this filth...I mean how can this BE Max Payne when he resembles nothing of the games magnetism. If the story, plot and action had been the same as the game, there would be no problem. If it had some of the frantic action that drowned the first Max Payne, if it had the flaming romance and passion of Max Payne 2, then we would have a fine film in the bag, but it's worryingly void of all these, even bending the plot out of context. When we see a film that has nothing to keep us glued to the Screen we ask ourselves why? Maybe if the age restriction had been higher then the Makers would have had more reign to do more, but yet, I still doubt it.
Max Payne may look like a variety of different films, but unlike Hitman, Constantine, or Bourne Ultimatum it falls flat on it's face regarding originality and keeping its audiences interested. This film will anger fans of the game and non-fans in equal measure in all likely hood, with it's uneven threaded story that results in a jigsaw thats unfathomable.
The actual cast actually display some of the worst acting I've seen in a fair while. Mark Wahlberg emulates his The Happening choice of film, with this dud to follow.
Mark Wahlberg refused to play Rockstar's Max Payne game before performing in this film, but, in addition, I must assume that neither the director nor the screenwriter ever played this game before either. If there weren't so many shots of the background scenery that tied in with the game (although they were never fully or, in some cases, partially explored, such as the Subway, the absent dream sections, or Police Station or even Ragnarok), I would assume that no one involved in the movie had even seen cut scenes from the game. I would have assumed that they got a one paragraph synopsis on the game, with character names, and just made up their own story that barely connect to the games.
So the first problem with Max Payne is heavy handed and droning attempt to develop a two dimensional character… Why? It's not like Max Payne needs alot of development, he's a dude with a vengeance on, shut up and let it happen. Instead you're walked through all of these really bad scenes filled wit the worst dialogue put to page. It's like watching soft-core blue movies without a nut to bust. That's just the first 20 minutes. The movie continues, but first let me tell you how they open the film, because it really set the bar for the rest of really badness of it all.
We open on a man walking down a hallway towards a door cracked open and light bleeding through it… A baby is crying in the distance. The man moves closer to the door and on that door a big sign reading "Baby" is hung on it. If they're assuming that an audience is that dumb; they didn't just put a big old title on the screen, or put an interpreter up there to point and say ''Baby Come back'' I know it ties with the video game, but this is an adaptation, some changes for the sake of not raping the audience's intelligence have to be made. And, believe me, it doesn't stop there, the film is filled with some of the most heavy handed art direction, really bad sound design and some of the worst editing I've seen since Happening. It's that crud basically.
Later on in the film Max and the Mila Kunis, playing a Russian girl, supposedly to move the plot forward, but ultimately becomes a tragic and unfulfilled, unresolved and disjointed piece.
They stop into a goth tattoo parlor, where they go through a catalogue of tattoos and stop on the reoccurring one they see. They question the proprietor and at the drop of a hat, he pulls out an old book about Norwegian mythology and starts talking about Valkyrie's, the symbol and the significance of the mark/tattoo. This brief wikipedia presentation ends with such a blatant inconsistency with Mark Walberg/Max Payne asking one more question and then the shop proprietor responding with a really big and dumb "Huh?" So in one single turn he goes from Mythology and theology expert into dumb goth guy.
The movie spends so much time building to a conflict, but without any tension, just trivial scene after scene.
There were points in the movie that we were really laughing, but they really weren't supposed to be funny. Dramatic tension was the goal, but the exact opposite occurred. In particular Mila Kunis talking to Max about how much of a dark time bomb he is. The dialogue is all, poorly written that the scene becomes comedic, a piss take.
Beau Bridges(Podge) is also laughably bad.
Other miserable notes… Chris O'Donnell(Robin) is awful.
Nelly Furtado's cameo… Was one of the most laughably bad moments on the screen and the first shot of Ludicrous, was also really funny. Like ludicrously laughable.
It wouldn't be so bad if not for the fact that Payne tramples the detective genre for clichés that only someone who has never seen a movie before would be surprised by. Someone dies after ripping off another character and thus pinning suspicion on him, another leaves a frantic phone message about meeting up to discuss new details in a cold case and is found murdered in that other guy's home, and it turns out that you can't really trust anyone(obviously). Again, obviously the filmmakers tried to study the works of the detective genre of old, they just didn't bother to do anything new, which means it fails.
Thorne's script is so short on explanations that it barely holds together. The movie throws drugs, hallucinations, a murder mystery, attacking birds, a devil's army, and the cover-up by a pharmaceutical company and for the most part I felt like an ass for even trying to make sense out of anything this silly. The rest of the plot can be seen coming a mile away and the dialogue said is some of the most ridiculous I've heard all year long. A character says of Payne, "He's looking for something even God wants to stay hidden." What will probably disappoint fans, however, is how few scenes of actual action are really in the movie, and how utterly devoid of excitement those few scenes are. Moore is a hack director in every sense of the word, relying on senseless, video-game style shootouts (accompanied by vile mood lighting) that don't thrill as much as glorify the violence. Is there a more overused action shot than turning to slow-motion to present a gun battle? Most of his computer visuals smack of being stolen from Francis Lawrence's far superior "Constantine," except they look messier and far too overdone to really respect. And how many times can we see digitally created snow falling on the city in the dark night? This movie is style over-drive at its worst.
And the actors don't seem to care. They seem to be approaching this movie with all the subtlety and dramatic weight of a porno. Wahlberg walks through the movie with a bored puss on his face, never digs deeper to show the character's tortured soul, and throws out lines like he could really give a crap what he's saying. I don't really blame him either cause I felt the same way. Milla Kunis (That 70's Show) is in the movie for some unexplainable reason, and she puts on her tough face in a performance that can only be described as laughable. Chris "Ludicrous" Bridges seems to be playing a detective in this movie but for the most part he just seems to be playing Chris "Ludicrous" Bridges. Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break) is a charismatic young actor who I wish could string together some decent movie roles, but that string isn't going to start here with his performance in the role of "crazy guy who likes to stare at people and sometimes look down on them from stairwells and rooftops." I have no idea what happened to Chris O'Donnell but he's taken a sharp decline since Batman and Robin. Clooney seems to have surpassed it and made up for it, as has Arnie. And Beau Bridges comes off the best here but that's like saying that a half-eaten hamburger(Podge) in a bag full of soiled nappies, is the best.
What really bothers me about movies like this is that it's all just violence and how best to package the violence in enticing, simple-minded wrapping paper. The villains are a collection of junkies, prostitutes, pimps, killers, and thugs who wallow in the gutter and the hero isn't that much better because all he wants is vengeance and blood. Both shoot their guns with as much care as if they were shooting in a video game. Both savagely beat on other people, sometimes doing it till death. Is there a difference between the two? Are we supposed to care here or just watch the bullets fly? Why is it that a movie featuring characters that are just violent and bloodthirsty can get a PG-13 but a movie that dissects the violence and ideas of vengeance like "Unforgiven" gets an R? It doesn't make sense to me and it sends out the wrong messages. I wish the MPAA would learn that.
Overall, the real problem of this project(and why I was so disgusted by it) lies in the fact that they took a deep, layered and emotional story and made it into a big, dumb, boring action movie. Well, at least to a degree. On one hand, you've got ridiculous Matrix-indulgent action sequences. I realize this was part of the game, but at least in the game they were entertaining. If this had been done years ago, maybe it would've had some sort of impact. As for the other side of the movie, it tries to capture the game's mood-setting film noir storytelling, but ends up one big bore. Few of the important details at all are revealed in the entirety of the film, leaving a sort of Lost effect stagnating the air. But who knows... maybe they intend to save that for the sequel, God help us.
Best thing about this film was that they had the Watch-men Trailer at the start beforehand, which pretty much says it all really.
''There's an army of bodies under this river, people who ran out of time, out of friends. I could feel the dead down there, reaching up to welcome me as one of their own. It was an easy mistake to make.''
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